He opened [his discourse by] quoting: "In all their affliction He was (in Hebrew, 'lo') afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them". (Isaiah 63:9) Come and see! During the time when Israel are afflicted with troubles, "lo " is spelled with the letter alef (meaning 'not') but pronounced "lo" with the letter vav (meaning 'He was') because G‑d is distressed by their affliction. So "lo" with an alef refers to a higher place [Arich Anpin, which is not distressed]. Even though there is no sorrow or grief up there, the afflictions of Israel do reach this high place. The term "lo" with an alef is used similarly in [the verse:] "it is He that made us and not [in Hebrew, 'lo'] ourselves," (Psalms 100:3) where "lo" is written with an alef [which is Arich Anpin] but pronounced with a vav [which is Zeir Anpin].

[On the following verse:] "and the angel of His presence saved them," (Isaiah 63:9) but it [the angel, meaning the Shechinah] is still together with them in their affliction. How could it be that She [already] "saved them" [in past tense]. It is not written, 'saves them,' but "saved them," meaning that they had already been saved. But [the fact that] She stays together with them in the same affliction and suffers with them [this is their salvation]. Come and see! Every time the children of Israel are in exile, the Shechinah is with them. This has already been explained, as it is written: "Then the L-rd your G‑d will return [together with] your captivity, and have compassion upon you". (Deut. 30:3)

Another explanation of the verse: "and the angel of His presence saved them" is that it refers to the Shechinah which is with them in exile. You claim that She "saved them," but indeed [the Shechinah Herself is in exile and as such, cannot even free Herself and surely cannot free them]. But because the Shechinah resides with them, G‑d remembers to benefit them and draw them out of exile, as it is first written: "and I have remembered my covenant," (Ex. 6:5) Later, it is written: "and now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me." (Ex. 3:9)

The phrase, "moreover I have seen" includes another 'seeing,' which is the first among all [by Arich Anpin], as it is written: "And G‑d remembered His covenant," (Ex. 2:24) which is the Shechinah "...with ('et') Abraham." It should have been written, 'to Abraham'; "with Abraham" alludes to the unison of the Shechinah joining with the Forefathers, "with Abraham" means the Southwest [relating to chesed on the right/south], ...with Isaac..." refers to the Northwest [relating to gevura on the left/north],"...and with Jacob..." [Zeir Anpin, uniting with Rachel] this is one union , one whole — a perfect and complete union as should properly be

Similarly, "(et) the heavens," (Gen. 1:1) which is the quality of the night [malchut] with day [Zeir Anpin]"...and the earth..." (vav of ve'et refers to Zeir Anpin; 'et' refers to malchut) thus, the union of the quality of the day with the night as one. So the term "et" (in Hebrew, 'the')" appears in them all, However, in reference to Jacob it is written: "and with (ve-et)," [the extra vav in Ve-et shows the attributes of tiferet and malchut, which rest upon Jacob]. They are in complete unison, for the male and female never depart from each other.

And G‑d in the future shall make His voice heard and announce to all the world, "For He said, Surely, they are My people, children that will not deal falsely; so He was their savior." (Isaiah 63:8)

Blessed be G‑d for evermore. Amen and Amen.

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Why was this selection chosen by the Ari and Chida?

Every letter, crown, vowel, cantellation note in the Torah has meaning. The difference between an alef and a vav makes all the difference in the world, or worlds.

"Baby, it's cold outside," goes the old song. We, however, should be warmed by the knowledge that we are never alone, that G‑d's Divine Presence is with us in our exile. That it is only our perception that there is no unification below, only diversity. What can we do to raise our consciousness to accept this proposition, to ingrain it in our mindset, and to do nothing inconsistent with keeping G‑d before us always.

What does it mean to YOU?! Why in your life are you reading this NOW?!

[Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries]