Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 14

The Sun and the Moon

Often, in Kabbalah and Chassidut, God’s two manifestations, His transcendent light and His immanent light, are symbolized as “sun” and “moon.” These were created on the fourth day, the day that corresponds to the sefirahof netzach. Obviously, the creation of the heavenly bodies on the fourth day corresponds to the direction of above–the direction of the first of the Ten Commandments.

Together with the moon, the stars were created. The stars symbolize the souls of Israel. God’s immanence (the “moon”) relates to each and every individual soul (each and every “star”). We are taught that “Israel is like the moon, calculates the calendar by the moon, and will be renewed as the moon.”

The Yoke of the Torah

Let us now study the terminology appearing in the first commandment. The word for “Egypt” Mitzrayim also means “confinements” Meitzarim. For this reason, all states of physical and spiritual “exile” are referred to in the Torah as “Egypt.” By the power of the Torah’s first commandment, we are released from exile. Only then can we perform all of God’s commandments, only when not slave to any other master can we become fully-committed servants of God.

IThe Ethics of the Fathers, we find that “whoever accepts upon himself the yoke of the Torah is released from the yoke of the government and the yoke of earning a living. And whoever throws off the yoke of the Torah is given the yoke of the government and the yoke of earning a living.” The first of the Ten Commandments, the belief in God, the giver of the Torah, is to receive upon oneself the yoke of the Torah, and so to experience one’s personal exodus from Egypt (the release, redemption, from all foreign yokes). The word for “yoke” in Hebrew, ol, is cognate to the word for “above,” al, thus alluding to the state of consciousness of this mitzvah, the sense of the Divine “above.”

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