Pharaoh recognizes Hashem repeatedly in this Parsha yet refuses to yield to Moses’ demands. This recognition is of the name that was given to Moses especially due to his level of understanding yet Pharaoh too seems to be familiar with Hashem as he keeps referring repeatedly to Hashem. Yes we know that Hashem hardens Pharaoh's heart in order to make the lessons more dramatic but this doesn't explain Pharaoh's knowledge of Hashem. Also when Moses explains the locusts plague Pharaoh seems to relent and allow them to leave.
Ex 10:10 'And he said unto them: 'So be the LORD with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones; see ye that evil is before your face.'
Then the next line:
Ex: 10:11 'Not so; go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that is what ye desire.' And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.'
What happens next is not the Exodus but rather Hashem continues with the plague of locusts. Something is missing here since Pharaoh repents later to get the locusts removed. It appears as though Hashem has acted without waiting for Pharaoh to change his mind. It is a break in the pattern for sure. A deep mystery is revealed here having to do with the nature of Hashem in terms of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. Here is how.
Start from nothing and expand into Infinity. What is it that we have to say or think about? It is always that which is was and always will be? How do we even define our terms of reference? Look around you now. Everything has a name and a description which ties to that name. What about your feelings? Yes they have a name too albeit their descriptions change with our mood from moment to moment. The interplay of perception on a grand scale consists of understanding followed by an even deeper more intimate knowledge that stretches forth through the expanding levels of awareness.
What we name a thing becomes that thing. If we see a clock without the awareness of what it is we will never be able to tell its time. Likewise if we think about something we will never be able to understand its meaning without the descriptions that are inherent in it from the unique perspectives we attain. In the case of Pharaoh his only actions are inactions. Pharaoh only acts accordingly to what Hashem through Moses makes take place. The final freedom happens not because Pharaoh decides to let the people go but rather that Moses through Hashem has decreed that moment of freedom has come and moves forward as if it had taken place already.
We tend to think of Hashem performing all of these miracles, however, it is Moses who stretches out his hands. It is Moses who is the actor. There is no divine intervention without the performance of human action. There must be connection before transformation and then freedom may be experienced. There are four players in this saga.
Pharaoh is the force of resistance in charge of the negativity brought about by a lack of connection with Hashem. This represents the mundane world without hope of renewal which eventually must decay resulting in being enslaved to reaction and the status quo.
Children of Israel: These are our thoughts that seek to expand their expression and are thwarted by the myriads of thoughts that abound. They seek the light but are caught in eddies of indifference or materiality. This creates the chains of illusion that bind the mind desperately seeking its freedom of expression. This freedom of expression represents our creative innate ability to expand the boundaries of our status quo.
Moses is the link between both the Children of Israel and Hashem. It is through Moses that the connection with Hashem is established. This connection represents the liberating force that frees the mind from its repetitive thinking or the materiality of sensation. Moses tells us that yes there is a way out and that yes we can indeed look forward to the expression of our thoughts in concert with Hashem. It is through Moses that the idea of the Promised Land of the fullest expression of our Intentions is brought into being.
Hashem is the indwelling energy of positive creation called in the beginning when Elohim said that it was good. It is this energy that we are continuously trying to connect with. It is the energy of fulfillment which flows out of the Tree of Life through the river that runs through Gan Eden.
Attach to the Tree of Life
In every situation we are called upon to either react to outside influences or to act in such a way as to influence the world around us. When we react we are attaching ourselves to the Tree of Knowledge taking from what we already know without thinking about what we may learn from this experience. It is a closed loop. When we act in such a way as to influence outside events we are starting with the premise that there is something beyond our reactions that may be employed to transform the world as we know. This transformation may only take place if we attach ourselves to the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life allows us to connect with the energy of Creation in such a way as to align our Intention-Kavannah with the natural flowing forces represented by the Sephiroth on this Tree of Life. This is what Moses is trying to accomplish here. Remember that Moses represents the connection between Hashem and the Children of Israel.
What the text is telling us is that through the medium of this connection we may obtain our freedom from the status quo ruled over by Pharaoh. Pharaoh represents the highest form of subjugation which is our buy into the entire situation believing that it was meant to be instead of being subject to higher thought. It is this buy-in that Moses is trying to break through and transform into the freedom of a consciousness that is attached to the Tree of Life where decisions are always made in concert with Hashem. These decisions tie into the most important decision of all; what should I be listening to?
What am I listening to?
When thoughts arise it is there that we have our choices to make. Do we follow those with negativity or do we push these aside and seek the higher thoughts that lead us creatively to the place we want to be. This is illustrated in this Parsha by the concept of the first born.
The First Born
Ex: 13:5 'and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill; and all the first-born of cattle.'
Hashem kills the entire first born of Egypt without exception. All the firstborn of Israel he passes over due to the blood on the lintel and sides of the door. What is the significance of the first born here? It is the initiation of evil or that first thought of evil that arises in the mind like a wild screaming monster calling us to pay attention to it and to build upon its evil by reacting to it. We react by making excuses for it and then by projecting it on the others. It is this first born thought of evil-chaos-Egypt that is killed by Hashem. It is killed by the recognition of the connection that is to be established between Moses and the Children of Israel (our thoughts that seek liberation) via Hashem our connection to the Tree of Life. The Children of Israel are spared because Hashem passes over them because of the blood that is displayed. The blood is a symbol of our connection to the Tree of Life via our life force. Remember Hashem does not perform without our actions here below. There cannot be any life force without the releasing the creative energy both physically and psychologically. When we pray we are in effect opening ourselves up to this energy of creation so that our first born thoughts are consecrated by Hashem.
This brings up the next portion of the idea of the first born that is discussed here.
Ex: 13:2 ''Sanctify unto Me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast, it is Mine.'
What does this mean in terms of our consciousness? We’re talking about the inspirations we daily receive from Hashem concerning our life choices. These choices are about the right thing to do. They are about performing mitzvoth in response to these thoughts that come in by the grace of Hashem. These are the thoughts of the good inclination that is attached to the Tree of Life. They are the one’s that are consecrated to Hashem. The verse above talks about the ‘whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel.’ This womb is consciousness pregnant with the creations that continuously issue from Hashem. When we have ears to hear these creations will become a part of our life. They will then share the blessings of Hashem with others in the form of the mitzvoth that we are a part of.
It becomes a simple case of choosing the best and leaving the rest behind.
This idea of the first born takes us further within the deepest corridors of consciousness. It also gives us a clue as to how thought itself arises and how it is shaped by the connection we have with Hashem. Let’s take this down to the personal level of our everyday affairs. The scenario plays out individually for us as follows:
When a negative thought arises we are almost certainly reacting to something that has happened to us. A reversal of fortune, an unkind word, an illness or any one of a number of events without, influences our thought atmosphere. The initial impulse is to react negatively to these events. This is only natural. However it isn’t this initial impulse that gets us into trouble but rather it is the continuation of this impulse leading to subsequent offshoots of this negativity causing a spiraling effect. This spiraling effect leads downward. The vibratory rate of our consciousness devolves causing further degradation in our lives leading to more and more chaos until the ultimate chaos death. We can however, stop this spiraling downwards by cutting off or killing this negative thought at its point of entry exactly as Hashem kills all of the first born of Egypt before the Children of Israel are able to be set free. This process and its antecedents are to be covered in the ensuing Torah portions.