Introduction

One of the fundamental concepts in chassidic thought is that G‑d created the world because He desired a dwelling in the lower realms.1 That statement implies the existence of two contradictory motifs: a) that He be revealed in all His infinity, in a manner that entirely transcends the norms that prevail in our material realm, and simultaneously

b) that this revelation permeate our material realm, respecting the natural rules that prevail within it.

The interplay of these two motifs defines the world’s spiritual history.

A turning point in that spiritual history was our people’s Exodus from Egypt. The plagues leading to that Exodus reflected the direct and discernable intervention of G‑d in the natural order. Nevertheless, even during these plagues, the natural order was not entirely nullified, and G‑d’s miraculous revelations did not completely interrupt the functioning of nature.

In the sichah that follows, the Rebbe touches on these concepts in a discussion of the Plague of Darkness. During that plague, “absolute darkness pervaded the land of Egypt.” Nevertheless, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings.”2

The light which the Jews enjoyed enabled them to facilitate one of the goals of the Egyptian exile. In the covenant Bein HaBesarim, when foretelling that exile, G‑d told Avraham,3 “Afterwards, they will emerge with great wealth.” As Rashi writes,4

“The Children of Israel searched [the Egyptians’ dwellings during the days of darkness] and saw their belongings. When they were leaving Egypt and asked [to borrow the Egyptians’ valuables, the Egyptians] would answer, “We have nothing.”

[Then the Israelites] would say… “I saw it in your house, and it is in such and such a place.”

The Rebbe notes that Rashi’s commentary is sourced in both Shmos Rabbah and Midrash Tanchuma. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the waythat Rashi and the Midrash present this concept.

According to the Midrash, there were two elements to Plague of Darkness: a) the absolute darkness that descended upon the Egyptians, and b) the miraculous light that illuminated the Egyptian’s homes for the Jews. According to Rashi’s commentary, there was only one miracle – that G‑d brought darkness upon the Egyptians that incapacitated them and enabled the Jews to search their homes and see where their valuables were. However, the Jews saw the valuables with natural light; there was no additional miracle that assisted them in their search.

The Rebbe interprets the difference between the statements of Rashi and the Midrash by applying the concept explained above – analyzing the degree to which G‑d’s transcendence permeated the natural order. Since obtaining the wealth of Egypt was a goal of the exile, there is a question whether that goal could be fulfilled in a miraculous manner (the Midrash’s approach) or whether it had to be fulfilled through natural means (Rashi’s approach).

After a detailed exposition of that question, the Rebbe draws parallels to our people’s present state. At the time of the plagues, when the Jewish people were in the final stages of the Egyptian exile, G‑d showed them wondrous miracles, so too, at present, He is bringing about circumstances that transcend the natural order so that the Jews will be able to carry out their Divine service without obstacles or hindrances, and moreover, obtain “the wealth of Egypt.” Furthermore, throughout this entire process, “all the Children of Israel [will] enjoy light in their dwellings.”

Two Forms of Light – Natural and Miraculous

1. When describing the Plague of Darkness, the Torah relates that5Moshe extended his arm… and absolute darkness pervaded the land of Egypt for three days. No man was able to see his fellow, and no man could rise from his place for three days, but all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings.”

Commenting on these verses, Midrash Rabbah states:6

Because of these three days of absolute darkness, the Holy One, blessed be He, granted the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and they lent them [what they asked.7 While darkness prevailed,] an Israelite would enter an Egyptian’s house and would see there gold and silver articles, and [fine] garments.8 [Later, just before the Exodus, when the Children of Israel asked the Egyptians to lend them these articles, if the Egyptians] would reply, “We have nothing to lend you,” the Children of Israel would say, “Behold, they are in this-and-this place.”

At that time, the Egyptians would say [to themselves,] “Had they desired to deceive us, they could [easily] have taken [these articles] during the days of darkness, for they saw them then and we would not have been aware. Since they did not touch [our belongings] then without our notice, [now also,] they will not keep them [for themselves.”]

Therefore, they lent them the articles, enabling the fulfillment of the G‑d’s pledge, “Afterwards, they will emerge with great wealth.”9

This is implied by the phrase, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,”10 since the verse does not say, “in the land of Goshen,” but “in their dwellings,” i.e., wherever a Jew went, light entered and illumined for him what was within the barrels, chests, and hidden treasure stores.

א

בְּסִפּוּר מַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ נֶאֱמַר בַּכָּתוּב60 “וַיֵּט מֹשֶׁה אֶת יָדוֹ גו’ וַיְהִי חֹשֶׁךְ אֲפֵלָה בְּכָל אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים. לֹא רָאוּ אִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו וְלֹא קָמוּ אִישׁ מִתַּחְתָּיו שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם”. וְאִיתָּא בְּמִדְרָשׁ רַבָּה61 “וּבְג’ יְמֵי אֲפֵלָה נָתַן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרַיִם62 וְהִשְׁאִילוּם שֶׁהָיָה יִשְׂרָאֵל נִכְנָס לְתוֹךְ בָּתֵּיהֶן שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם וְהָיוּ רוֹאִין בָּהֶן כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב וּשְׂמָלוֹת63 אִם הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים אֵין לָנוּ לְהַשְׁאִיל לָכֶם הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹמְרִים לָהֶן הֲרֵי הוּא בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי, בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה הָיוּ הַמִּצְרִיִּים אוֹמְרִים אִם הָיוּ אֵלֶּה רוֹצִים לְשַׁקֵּר בָּנוּ הָיוּ נוֹטְלִין אוֹתָן בִּימֵי הַחֹשֶׁךְ וְלֹא הָיִינוּ מַרְגִּישִׁין שֶׁהֲרֵי רָאוּ אוֹתָן כְּבָר אַחַר שֶׁלֹּא נָגְעוּ חוּץ מִדַּעְתֵּנוּ כְּמוֹ כֵן לֹא יַחֲזִיקוּ וְהָיוּ מַשְׁאִילִין לָהֶן, לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר64 וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכוּשׁ גָּדוֹל, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר וגו’, בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן לֹא נֶאֱמַר אֶלָּא בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם שֶׁכָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה יְהוּדִי נִכְנָס הָיָה אוֹר נִכְנָס וּמֵאִיר לוֹ מַה שֶּׁבְּחָבִיּוֹת וּבְתֵבוֹת וּבְמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת”.

Midrash Tanchuma makes similar (albeit, somewhat abbreviated) statements:11

A similar phenomenon took place in Egypt.12 A [Divine] cloud provided light for Israel and yet brought darkness for the Egyptians, as implied by the phrase,1 “No man was able to see…. but all the Children of Israel enjoyed light.”6 [The cloud] illumined for Israel and showed them all the silver and golden articles and fine garments and “all the good of Egypt,”13 exposing the contents of the chests, barrels, and treasures to them. The Jews would ask for [the articles] and the [Egyptians,] against their will, would give them to the [Jews]. For the Children of Israel would say to them: “You have this-and-this article in this place.”

וְכֵן אִיתָא (בְּקִצּוּר) בְּתַנְחוּמָא65 “וְכֵן בְּמִצְרַיִם הֶעָנָן מֵאִיר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמַחְשִׁיךְ לְמִצְרַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לֹא רָאוּ וגו’ וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר וְהָיָה מֵאִיר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמַרְאֶה לָהֶן כָּל כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וְזָהָב וּשְׂמָלוֹת וְכָל טוּב מִצְרַיִם וּמַה שֶּׁבְּתֵבוֹת וּבְחָבִיּוֹת וּבְמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת הָיָה מַרְאֶה לָהֶן וְהָיוּ שׁוֹאֲלִין וְנוֹתְנִין לָהֶן בְּעַל כָּרְחָן שֶׁהָיוּ אוֹמְרִים לָהֶם יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי לָךְ בְּמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי כְּלִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ”.

Rashi14 also quotes this teaching in an abbreviated form, saying:

תֹּכֶן דְּרָשׁ זֶה הוּבָא בְּקִצּוּר בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י66 “וְלָמָה הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם חֹשֶׁךְ שֶׁהָיוּ . . וְעוֹד67 שֶׁחִפְּשׂוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְרָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם וּכְשֶׁיָּצְאוּ וְהָיוּ שׁוֹאֲלִין מֵהֶן וְהָיוּ אוֹמְרִים אֵין בְּיָדֵינוּ כְּלוּם אוֹמֵר לוֹ אֲנִי רְאִיתִיו בְּבֵיתְךָ וּבְמָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי הוּא”.

Why did He bring darkness upon them [(the Egyptians)]...? Furthermore,15 the Children of Israel searched [the Egyptians’ dwellings during the days of darkness] and saw their belongings. When they were leaving [Egypt] and asked [to borrow the Egyptians’ valuables, they] would answer, “We have nothing.” [Then the Israelites] would say… “I saw it in your house, and it is in such and such a place.”

Some analysis is required. At first glance, it would appear that Rashi intends to interpret the verse in the same way the Midrash did, i.e., that the Jews seeing the Egyptians’ articles is the implied in the phrase, “ all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings.”16

וְהִנֵּה לְפוּם רִיהֲטָא נִרְאֶה, שֶׁכַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ”י לְפָרֵשׁ הַכָּתוּב כְּמוֹ בְּפֵרוּשׁ הַמִּדְרָשׁ, דְּזֶה שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵי הַמִּצְרִיִּים הוּא פֵּרוּשׁ הַכָּתוּב “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם”68.

It is, however, very difficult to explain that this is Rashi’s intent, because:

אֲבָל דֹּחַק גָּדוֹל לְפָרֵשׁ כֵּן כַּוָּנַת רַשִׁ”י, כִּי:

a) From the wording, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,” and not, “in the land of Goshen,” the Midrash infers, “wherever a Jew went, light entered.” This inference is not the straightforward meaning of the word bemoshvosam, “in their dwellings.” On the contrary, it is the opposite of its straightforward meaning.17 If Rashi thought that this is the plain meaning of the verse, he should have stated this explicitly.

א) הַדִּיּוּק הַנַּ”ל שֶׁבַּמִּדְרָשׁ, “בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן לֹא נֶאֱמַר אֶלָּא בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם, שֶׁכָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה יְהוּדִי נִכְנָס הָיָה אוֹר נִכְנָס כו’ ”, אֵינוֹ פַּשְׁטוּת הַפֵּרוּשׁ שֶׁל “בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” (וְאַדְּרַבָּה, זֶהוּ הֵפֶךְ פֵּרוּשׁ הַפָּשׁוּט)69, וְאִם רַשִׁ”י סְבִירָא לֵיהּ הָכִי הֲוָה לֵיהּ לִכְתּוֹב זֹאת בְּפֵרוּשׁ.

b) More fundamentally, Rashi wrote his commentary on the words of verse,1 “And absolute darkness pervaded the land of Egypt for three days,” to explain the reason why G‑d brought darkness on the Egyptians. He did not at all mention the words of the following verse, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings.”

ב) וְעִקָּר: רַשִׁ”י כָּתַב פֵּרוּשׁוֹ עַל הַתֵּבוֹת (בְּפָסוּק כב) “וַיְהִי חֹשֶׁךְ אֲפֵלָה גו’ שְׁלֹשֶׁת יָמִים”, כְּטַעַם לְמַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ – “וְלָמָה הֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם חֹשֶׁךְ” – וְלֹא הִזְכִּיר כְּלָל בְּפֵרוּשׁוֹ אֶת הַתֵּבוֹת (מֵהַכָּתוּב שֶׁלְּאַחַר זֶה – פָּסוּק כג) “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם”.

It is apparent from these points that, according to Rashi’s commentary, the verses are describing two different matters:

a) “All the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings” refers – as is the straightforward meaning of the phrase – to the homes of the Jewish people in the land of Goshen.13

b) The fact that the Jews saw the articles the Egyptians possessed in their homes is not derived from the phrase, “All the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,” but rather is inferred from the Plague of Darkness itself. This was the purpose of the plague – that the Jews would see the Egyptians’ articles and borrow them afterwards when they left Egypt.

וּמַשְׁמַע מִזֶּה, שֶׁלְּפִי פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י הָיוּ כַּאן שְׁנֵי עִנְיָנִים שׁוֹנִים: א) "וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם" – שֶׁבְּזֶה מְדֻבָּר (כְּפַשְׁטוּת מַשְׁמָעוּת הַלָּשׁוֹן) עַל-דְּבַר בָּתֵּי יִשְׂרָאֵל (שֶׁבְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן)י. ב) זֶה שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל "רָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם" שֶׁל הַמִּצְרִים בְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִים – וְדָבָר זֶה נִלְמָד (לֹא מִמַּה שֶּׁכָּתוּב "וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם", כִּי אִם) מֵעֶצֶם מַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁזּוֹ הָיְתָה כַּוָּנַת הַמַּכָּה, כְּדֵי שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יוּכְלוּ לִרְאוֹת אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם וְלִשְׁאוֹל אוֹתָם אַחַר כָּךְ מֵהַמִּצְרִיִּים בְּעֵת יְצִיאָתָם מִמִּצְרַיִם.

Was the Light that Shone for the Jews Natural or Miraculous?

2. According to the above explanations, there is a fundamental difference between the interpretations given by the Midrash and Rashi to the verses here: According to the Midrash, the phrase, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,” is also part of the Plague of Darkness; that plague had two elements: a) a miraculous, absolute darkness visited upon the Egyptians, b) a miraculous18 dimension of light for the Jews – “wherever a Jew went, light entered and illuminated [the place] for him....”

ב

לְפִי הַנַּ”ל נִמְצֵינוּ לְמֵדִים, שֶׁיֵּשׁ חִלּוּק עִקָּרִי בֵּין הַמִּדְרָשׁ וּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י בְּפֵרוּשׁ הַכְּתוּבִים כַּאן:

לְהַמִּדְרָשׁ, מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” – גַּם זֶה הוּא חֵלֶק מִמַּכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, כִּי הַמַּכָּה כָּלְלָה שְׁנֵי פְרָטִים: (א) חֹשֶׁךְ (נִסִּי) לְמִצְרַיִם, (ב) אוֹר (נִסִּי70) לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, “שֶׁכָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁהָיָה יְהוּדִי נִכְנָס הָיָה אוֹר נִכְנָס וּמֵאִיר לוֹ כו’ ”.

By contrast, according to Rashi’s commentary here, there was only one miracle – that G‑d brought darkness upon the Egyptians. However, the reason He brought this plague upon them was for the sake of the Jewish people. The darkness enabled the Jews to search the Egyptians’ homes and see where their valuables were. However, there was no additional miracle that enabled the Jews to see what was located in the Egyptians’ homes.19

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן לְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י הָיָה כַּאן רַק נֵס אֶחָד – הַחֹשֶׁךְ שֶׁהֵבִיא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַמִּצְרִים, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַטַּעַם שֶׁהֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם מַכָּה זוֹ הָיָה בִּשְׁבִיל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי הַחֹשֶׁךְ נִתְּנָה הַיְכֹלֶת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְחַפֵּשׂ בְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִים וְלִרְאוֹת מְקוֹם כְּלֵיהֶם, אֲבָל לֹא הָיָה בְּזֶה נֵס נוֹסָףשֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יוּכְלוּ לִרְאוֹת מַה שֶּׁנִּמְצָא בְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִיִּים.

The latter phrase in the verse, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,” communicates an independent issue, emphasizing that the plague affected only Egypt proper, but not the land of Goshen where the Jews lived. The fact that darkness did not affect the Jews in the Egyptians’ homes was an integral part of the Plague of Darkness because it was the intent and purpose of the plague. By contrast, the intent of the phrase, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,” was to demonstrate the opposite – that the darkness did not affect the Jews’ dwellings. Seemingly, it is unnecessary to state this; it is understood regardless, for the plague only affected the Egyptians.20 However, we see a similar phenomenon regarding the Plague of Hail, as it is written,21 “Only in the land of Goshen, where the Children of Israel lived, was there no hail.”

[וּמַה שֶּׁהַכָּתוּב מַמְשִׁיךְ אַחַר כָּךְ “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם”, הוּא עִנְיָן בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ, שֶׁבָּא לְהַדְגִּישׁ שֶׁהַמַּכָּה הָיְתָה רַק בְּמִצְרַיִם וְלֹא בִּמְקוֹם מוֹשַׁב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן. כְּלוֹמַר: זֶה שֶׁלֹּא הֶחְשִׁיךְ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בְּבֵית הַמִּצְרִי הֲרֵי זֶה חֵלֶק מִמַּכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, כִּי זֶהוּ הַמְּכֻוָּן וְהַמַּטָּרָה שֶׁל הַמַּכָּה; מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן הַכַּוָּנָה בְּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” הִיא, אַדְּרַבָּה, לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה שׁוּם רֹשֶׁם מֵהַחֹשֶׁךְ בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בְּמַכַּת בָּרָד71 “רַק בְּאֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן אֲשֶׁר שָׁם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא הָיָה בָּרָד”, אַף שֶׁלִּכְאוֹרָה פָּשׁוּט הוּא בְּלַאו הָכֵי, שֶׁהֲרֵי הַמַּכָּה הָיָה רַק עַל מִצְרַיִם72].

The difference between the Midrash and Rashi’s commentary is underscored in a precise manner by the differences in their wording. The Midrash states7 that the light “illumined [the place] for Israel and showed them…. what was in the chests, the barrels, and the treasures.” Rashi, by contrast, a) does not mention any light and just speaks about the Jews seeing the Egyptians’ valuables; b) states that the Jews “searched,” unlike the Midrash that states that the light showed them; c) does not mention that the Jews saw the valuables “in the chests, the barrels, and the hidden places.”

וְחִלּוּק זֶה בֵּין הַמִּדְרָשׁ וּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י מֻדְגָּשׁ וּמְדֻיָּק בְּשִׁנּוּיֵי הַלְּשׁוֹנוֹת שֶׁבֵּינֵיהֶם:

בַּמִּדְרָשׁ הַלָּשׁוֹן שֶׁהָאוֹר הָיָה “מֵאִיר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּמַרְאֶה לָהֶן . . מַה שֶּׁבְּתֵבוֹת וּבְחָבִיּוֹת וּבְמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת”, וְאִלּוּ בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י (א) לֹא נִזְכַּר כְּלָל שֶׁהָיָה כַּאן אֵיזֶה “אוֹר” (וְרַק הִזְכִּיר עַל-דְּבַר רְאִיַּת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, “רָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם”), (ב) מְדַיֵּק שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל “חִפְּשׂוּ” – דְּלֹא כְּבַמִּדְרָשׁ, שֶׁהָאוֹר הָיָה “מַרְאֶה לָהֶן”, (ג) מַשְׁמִיט שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רָאוּ אֶת הַכֵּלִים שֶׁ”בְּתֵבוֹת וּבְחָבִיּוֹת וּבְמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת”.

Based on the above, the reason for these differ­ences can be understood in a straightforward manner. According to the Midrash, that “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings” is part of the miracle. Thus, it was a unique and miraculous light that “showed them…. what was in the chests, barrels, and hidden places.” An ordinary light would not have been sufficient to enable the Jews to see what was stored in containers and, how much more so, in the hidden places. For that, a unique and miraculous light was necessary.

וְעַל פִּי הַנַּ”ל מוּבָן טַעַם הַשִּׁנּוּיִים בְּפַשְׁטוּת:

לְהַמִּדְרָשׁ שֶׁ”וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” הוּא חֵלֶק מֵהַנֵּס, אִם כֵּן הָיָה זֶה אוֹר מְיֻחָד וְנִסִּי שֶׁהָיָה
“מַרְאֶה לָהֶן . . מַה שֶּׁבְּתֵבוֹת וּבְחָבִיּוֹת וּבְמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת”, וְעַל זֶה אֵינוֹ מַסְפִּיק אוֹר טִבְעִי לִרְאוֹת עַל יָדוֹ מַה שֶּׁנִּמְצָא בְּתוֹךְ הַכֵּלִים וְ(כָל שֶׁכֵּן) בְּמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת, אֶלָּא הָיָה אוֹר מְיֻחָד וְנִסִּייא.

By contrast, according to the straightforward meaning of the Torah’s words – which Rashi’s commentary intends to present22 – a miraculous light did not shine. It is only that the Plague of Darkness did not prevent the Jewish people from seeing. Consequently, during the day, they were able to see what the Egyptians’ homes contained using ordinary, natural light.23 Therefore, they had to search until they found the valuables of the Egyptians. (According to this understanding, possibly the Jews did not find all the valuables that were concealed in hidden places.)

מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן עַל פִּי פְּשׁוּטוֹ שֶׁל מִקְרָא (דֶּרֶךְ רַשִׁ”י בְּפֵרוּשׁוֹ עַל הַתּוֹרָה) לֹא הָיָה כַּאן אוֹר נִסִּי, כִּי אִם רַק שֶׁהַחֹשֶׁךְ לֹא הֶחְשִׁיךְ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּבְמֵילָא הָיוּ יְכוֹלִים לִרְאוֹת מַה שֶּׁיֵּשׁ בְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִים (בְּאוֹר רָגִיל וְטִבְעִי)73, וְלָכֵן הֻצְרְכוּ לְחַפֵּשׂ וכו’ עַד שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵי הַמִּצְרִיִּים (וְעַל פִּי זֶה יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא מָצְאוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת כָּל הַכֵּלִים שֶׁהָיוּ טְמוּנִים בְּמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת כו’).

On this basis, it is possible to explain another difference between the statements of the Midrash and those of Rashi. Rashi explicitly states that enabling the Jews to enter the Egyptians’ homes and see their valuables was one of the reasons for the Plague of Darkness.24 By contrast, the wording of the Midrash seems to imply that this was not a reason for the Plague of Darkness, rather an additional aspect of the Plague of Darkness that occurred at the time.25

According to the above understanding, it is possible to explain the rationale for this distinction. According to the Midrash, which maintains that it was a miraculous light that showed the Jews all the Egyptians’ valuables, it was not that necessary to bring darkness upon them. Even if the Egyptians still had ordinary light, the Jews would have seen the Egyptians’ valuables via this miraculous light.26 By contrast, according to Rashi, who maintains that this was not a miraculous light, the possibility of seeing the Egyptians’ valuables came about only because of the darkness G‑d brought upon the Egyptians.

[וְעַל פִּי זֶה יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר עוֹד שִׁנּוּי בֵּין הַמִּדְרָשׁ וְרַשִׁ"י: בְּרַשִׁ"י מְפֹרָשׁ שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיוּ נִכְנָסִים לְבֵית הַמִּצְרִים וְרוֹאִים אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם, הָיָה (אֶחָד) מֵהַטְּעָמִים לְמַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ74, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן מִלְּשׁוֹן הַמִּדְרָשׁ מַשְׁמַע שֶׁאֵין זֶה הַטַּעַם לְמַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, אֶלָּא דָּבָר נוֹסָף שֶׁאֵרַע בִּשְׁעַת מַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ75. וְעַל פִּי הַנַּ"ל יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר הַטַּעַם, כִּי לְהַמִּדְרָשׁ שֶׁהָיָה אוֹר נִסִּי שֶׁהֶרְאָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת כָּל כְּלֵי הַמִּצְרִים, אֵין צֹרֶךְ (כָּל כָּךְ) לְהָבִיא עֲלֵיהֶם חֹשֶׁךְ, כִּי גַם אִם הָיָה אוֹר אֵצֶל הַמִּצְרִים, הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל רוֹאִים אֶת כְּלֵי מִצְרַיִם עַל יְדֵי אוֹר נִסִּי זֶה76; מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן לְפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ"י שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה אוֹר נִסִּי, הֲרֵי הָאֶפְשָׁרוּת לִרְאוֹת כְּלֵי הַמִּצְרִים הָיְתָה רַק מִצַּד הַחֹשֶׁךְ שֶׁהֵבִיא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל הַמִּצְרִים].

To Permeate the Natural Order

3. It is possible to explain the reason Rashi diverged from the interpretation of the Midrash by first clarifying these fundamental principles.

ג

וְיֵשׁ לְבָאֵר טַעְמוֹ שֶׁל רַשִׁ”י שֶׁשִּׁנָּה מִדְּרָשַׁת הַמִּדְרָשׁ, וּבְהַקְדִּים:

As is well known, an effort should be made to observe G‑d’s commandments according to the natural order and not via a miracle. The intent is twofold:

a) that the mitzvos be fulfilled with natural objects and not objects brought into being via a miracle;27

b) that the actions that fulfill the mitzvah be performed in a natural manner.

יָדוּעַ שֶׁבְּקִיּוּם צִוּוּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, יֵשׁ לְהִשְׁתַּדֵּל שֶׁהַקִּיּוּם יִהְיֶה בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטֶּבַע, לֹא עַל יְדֵי נֵס, הַיְנוּ הֵן שֶׁהַחֵפֶץ שֶׁבּוֹ נַעֲשֵׂית הַמִּצְוָה יִהְיֶה חֵפֶץ טִבְעִי וְלֹא מַעֲשֵׂה נִסִּים77, וְהֵן שֶׁהַמַּעֲשֶׂה דְּקִיּוּם הַמִּצְוָה יֵעָשֶׂה בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטֶּבַע.

Moreover, as explained elsewhere at length,28the above principles apply not only to the actual observance of the mitzvah, but also to the preparations necessary to perform the mitzvah. They must also be carried out in a natural manner. This can be derived from the well-known story29 regarding the Alter Rebbe’s sanctification of the moon during the time of his imprisonment. Because he had been held indoors, he had not been able to see the moon and recite the blessing over it. While being ferried by boat to an interrogation, he saw the moon and asked the official in command of the boat to stop it so he could sanctify the moon with composure, while standing. When the official refused his request, the Alter Rebbe stopped the boat in a miraculous manner. However, he did not sanctify the moon at that time, but instead allowed the boat to proceed and then, again asked the official to stop the boat. Only when the official willingly agreed to stop the boat, did he sanctify the moon. Among the reasons for this30 is that he desired that even the preparations to observe the mitzvah to be carried out in a natural manner and not via a miracle.31

וִיתֵרָה מִזּוֹ נִתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בַּאֲרֻכָּה78, שֶׁזֶּה כּוֹלֵל לֹא רַק קִיּוּם הַמִּצְוָה עַצְמָהּ, אֶלָּא גַּם הַהֲכָנָה לַמִּצְוָה, שֶׁגַּם הַהֲכָנָה צְרִיכָה לִהְיוֹת טִבְעִית. וּכְפִי שֶׁלְּמֵדִים מֵהַסִּפּוּר הַיָּדוּעַ79 אוֹדוֹת קִדּוּשׁ לְבָנָה שֶׁל אַדְמוּ”ר הַזָּקֵן, שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ מֵהַפָּקִיד שֶׁהָיָה מְמֻנֶּה עַל הַסְּפִינָה לְעָצְרָהּ בִּכְדֵי שֶׁיּוּכַל לְקַדֵּשׁ אֶת הַלְּבָנָה מְעֻמָּד וּבְיִשּׁוּב הַדַּעַת, וְכַאֲשֶׁר הַפָּקִיד סֵרֵב, עָצַר אַדְמוּ”ר הַזָּקֵן אֶת הַסְּפִינָה בְּדֶרֶךְ נֵס, אֲבָל לֹא קִדֵּשׁ אָז אֶת הַלְּבָנָה עַד שֶׁהַפָּקִיד הִסְכִּים לְעָצְרָהּ בְּעַצְמוֹ – שֶׁמֵּהַטְּעָמִים עַל זֶה הוּא80, לְפִי שֶׁרָצָה שֶׁגַּם הַהֲכָנָה לְקִיּוּם הַמִּצְוָה תִּהְיֶה בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטֶּבַע וְלֹא עַל יְדֵי עִנְיָן נִסִּי81.

Based on the above, it can be explained why Rashi did not follow the interpretation of the Midrash – that the Jews saw the Egyptians’ valuables via a unique miracle, an unnatural light. According to this interpretation, the intent of the Plague of Darkness was to enable the Jews to fulfill G‑d’s commandment,32 “Have them borrow, each man from his friend and each woman from her friend, silver objects and golden objects,” to the extent that they “drain Egypt [of its wealth,]” emptying it out,33as it were.

וְעַל פִּי זֶה יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר מַה שֶּׁלֹּא פֵרֵשׁ רַשִׁ”י כְּבַמִּדְרָשׁ שֶׁרְאִיַּת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם שֶׁל הַמִּצְרִיִּים הָיְתָה עַל יְדֵי נֵס מְיֻחָד (עַל יְדֵי אוֹר שֶׁלֹּא עַל פִּי טֶבַע) – כִּי לְפִי דְּרָשָׁה זוֹ, הָיָה הַמְּכֻוָּן בְּמַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ כְּדֵי שֶׁיּוּכְלוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לְקַיֵּם אֶת צִוּוּי ה’82 “וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִשָּׁה מֵאֵת רְעוּתָהּ כְּלֵי כֶסֶף וּכְלֵי זָהָב”, עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה “וְנִצַּלְתֶּם אֶת מִצְרָיִם” – “וּתְרוֹקִנּוּן”83,

According to the Midrash, it follows that the preparations for fulfilling this command were carried out in an unnatural manner, via a miracle. For it was only via this miraculous light that the Jews saw the Egyptians’ silver and golden articles and what they had hidden. This was the only way through which the Jews were able to carry out the command to request all the Egyptians’ valuables that had been stored in hidden places.

וּלְפִי זֶה נִמְצָא, שֶׁהַהֲכָנָה לְקִיּוּם צִוּוּי זֶה הָיָה שֶׁלֹּא עַל פִּי טֶבַע, בְּדֶרֶךְ נֵס, כִּי רַק עַל יְדֵי אוֹר נִסִּי זֶה רָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵי כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב שֶׁל הַמִּצְרִיִּים וּמַה שֶּׁהָיָה טָמוּן כו’, וְרַק עַל יְדֵי זֶה קִיְּמוּ הַצִּוּוּי לְבַקֵּשׁ מֵהֶם כָּל כְּלֵיהֶם שֶׁהָיוּ בְּמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת וכו’.

For this reason, Rashi deviates from that interpretation and explains that they did not see the Egyptians’ valuables because of a unique and miraculous light. Instead, their search was conducted naturally; the Jews searched the Egyptians’ homes and saw their valuables by natural light. In this way, even the preparation for the fulfillment of the mitzvah would be carried out in a natural way.

וְלָכֵן מְשַׁנֶּה רַשִׁ”י וּמְפָרֵשׁ, שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם לֹא הָיָה עַל יְדֵי אוֹר מְיֻחָד וּבְדֶרֶךְ נֵס, אֶלָּא עַל פִּי טֶבַע, שֶׁחִפְּשׂוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִיִּים וְרָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם בְּאוֹר טִבְעִי, בִּכְדֵי שֶׁגַּם הַהֲכָנָה לְהַמִּצְוָה תִּתְקַיֵּם בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטֶּבַע.

True, the preparations were in any case not carried out entirely in a natural way, since, fundamentally, the entire miracle of the Plague of Darkness was so that the Jews could see the Egyptians’ valuables. However, that represented merely the removal of an obstacle or, at most, a motivating factor or a cause enabling the Jews to perform G‑d’s command. However, it is not as if the Plague of Darkness played an active part in preparing for the mitzvah to drain Egypt of its wealth. That was achieved specifically when the Jews searched for and saw the Egyptians’ valuables. Thus, this does not represent a departure from the natural order.

[וְאַף שֶׁכָּל עִקַּר הַנֵּס שֶׁל מַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ הָיָה בִּשְׁבִיל זֶה שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל יוּכְלוּ לִרְאוֹת אֶת כְּלֵי הַמִּצְרִים – הֲרֵי זֶה רַק בְּגֶדֶר דַּהֲסָרַת הַמְּנִיעָה, אוֹ לְכָל הַיּוֹתֵר בְּאֹפֶן שֶׁל סִבָּה וּגְרָם, וְלֹא הֲכָנָה וְהַכְשָׁרָה לְהַמִּצְוָה, שֶׁזֶּה הָיָה דַוְקָא בְּזֶה שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל חִפְּשׂוּ וְרָאוּ אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם, וּבִכְגוֹן דָּא – אֵין זֶה שֶׁלֹּא עַל פִּי טֶבַע.

This concept can also be derived from the above-mentioned story regarding the Alter Rebbe. Seemingly, the official did not agree to stop the boat entirely on his own volition. He did so only because he saw that the Alter Rebbe had the power to stop the boat miraculously. Nevertheless, the Alter Rebbe’s stopping the boat was merely a trigger. The actual preparation for the mitzvah, stopping the boat so that the blessing for the sanctification of the moon could take place, was performed by the official willingly, not in a miraculous manner.

וְגַם דָּבָר זֶה יֵשׁ לִלְמוֹד מֵהַסִּפּוּר הַנַּ”ל שֶׁל אַדְמוּ”ר הַזָּקֵן, דְּלִכְאוֹרָה זֶה שֶׁהַפָּקִיד הִסְכִּים לַעֲצוֹר אֶת הַסְּפִינָה – לֹא הָיָה מֵחֲמַת עַצְמוֹ (מַמָּשׁ), אֶלָּא לְפִי שֶׁרָאָה שֶׁבְּכֹחוֹ שֶׁל אַדְמוּ”ר הַזָּקֵן לְהַעֲמִיד אֶת הַסְּפִינָה מֵעַצְמוֹ בְּאֹפֶן נִסִּי,

אֶלָּא שֶׁזֶּהוּ רַק גְּרָמָא בְּעָלְמָא; הַהֲכָנָה עַצְמָהּ, הַעֲמָדַת הַסְּפִינָה בִּשְׁבִיל אֲמִירַת הַבְּרָכָה דְּקִדּוּשׁ הַלְּבָנָה, הָיְתָה עַל יְדֵי הַפָּקִיד בְּעַצְמוֹ וְלֹא בְּאֹפֶן נִסִּי].

Why was a Miraculous Light Necessary?

4. Nevertheless, the Midrash was not concerned with the issue raised above and interpreted the light as being unique and miraculous. It is possible to explain that, according to the Midrash, it was not necessary for the preparations for taking the Egyptians’ wealth to be carried out within the natural order due to the following reasons:

ד

אָמְנָם זֶה שֶׁהַמִּדְרָשׁ לֹא חָשׁ לְזֶה, וּמְפָרֵשׁ שֶׁהָיָה בְּזֶה אוֹר מְיֻחָד וְנִסִּי, יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, מִשּׁוּם דִּסְבִירָא לֵיהּ שֶׁבְּנִדּוֹן דִּידָן לֹא הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת כֵּן – וּמִצַּד כַּמָּה טְעָמִים:

a) The condition that the observance of mitzvos must be incorporated within the natural order applies primarily regarding the mitzvos observed after the Giving of the Torah. This approach is intrinsically connected with the Giving of the Torah, because one of the fundamental aspects of the Giving of the Torah is that the mitzvos affect the material dimensions of existence. To refer to the wording of the Midrash,34 “The higher realms descend to the lower realms.”

For this reason, the majority of – indeed, almost all – mitzvos are fulfilled using material entities, and should be carried out through natural means.23 By contrast, the matter at hand, the preparations to drain Egypt of its wealth, took place before the Giving of the Torah.

א) הַתְּנַאי שֶׁקִּיּוּם הַמִּצְוֹת צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בְּדֶרֶךְ הַטֶּבַע דַּוְקָא, הוּא בְּעִקָּר בַּמִּצְוֹת שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֵי מַתַּן תּוֹרָה [כִּי זֶהוּ עִנְיָן עִקָּרִי בְּמַתַּן תּוֹרָה, שֶׁהַמִּצְוֹת יִפְעֲלוּ בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת הָעוֹלָם, בִּלְשׁוֹן הַמִּדְרָשׁ84 “עֶלְיוֹנִים יֵרְדוּ לְתַחְתּוֹנִים”, וְלָכֵן רֹב הַמִּצְוֹת כְּכֻלָּן הֵן בִּדְבָרִים גַּשְׁמִיִּים, וּבָזֶה גוּפָא בְּדַרְכֵי הַטֶּבַע דַּוְקָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵריט] – מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּנִדּוֹן דִּידָן שֶׁמְּדֻבָּר קֹדֶם מַתַּן תּוֹרָה.

b) The purpose of draining Egypt of its wealth was not so much a mitzvah and an obligation upon the Jewish people, but rather a reward they received from Above. Through it, G‑d’s promise that “afterwards, they will emerge with great wealth,”35 was fulfilled. It is only that G‑d enclothed the payment of this reward in the natural order – i.e., that the Jews borrow silver and gold from the Egyptians. However, the intent was that it enable them to receive a reward from Above.

ב) תֹּכֶן הָעִנְיָן דִּ”וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ גו’ ” אֵינוֹ (כָּל כָּךְ) בְּגֶדֶר שֶׁל “מִצְוָה” וְחִיּוּב (שֶׁל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל), אֶלָּא אַדְּרַבָּה, קַבָּלַת שָׂכָר (מִלְמַעְלָה), שֶׁעַל יְדֵי זֶה נִתְקַיְּמָה הַבְטָחַת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא “וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יֵצְאוּ בִּרְכוּשׁ גָּדוֹל”85, אֶלָּא שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הִלְבִּישׁ תַּשְׁלוּם שָׂכָר זֶה בְּדַרְכֵי הַטֶּבַע, עַל יְדֵי שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יִשְׁאֲלוּ מֵהַמִּצְרִים כְּלֵי כֶסֶף גו’, אֲבָל תֹּכֶן הַדָּבָר הוּא – קַבָּלַת שָׂכָר מִלְמַעְלָה.

For this reason, we find that the draining Egypt of its wealth was not that dependent on the acts of the Jewish people, but came about miraculously from Above. As the Torah specifically states when it first begins discussing the matter, G‑d assured Moshe,36 “I will grant the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians.” Afterwards, the Torah relates that this actually took place – “G‑d granted the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians,”37 and “G‑d granted the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and they lent them [what they requested.]”38 It is self-understood that it does not make a difference if the fulfillment of such a command is made possible through preparations that came about via a miracle or whether it is made possible through natural means.

[וְלָכֵן מָצִינוּ שֶׁכְּלָלוּת הָעִנְיָן דִּ”וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ אִישׁ מֵאֵת רֵעֵהוּ וגו’ ” לֹא הָיָה תָּלוּי כָּל כָּךְ בִּידֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶלָּא בָּא בְּדֶרֶךְ נֵס מִלְמַעְלָה, וְכִמְפֹרָשׁ בִּתְחִלַּת הָעִנְיָן86 “וְנָתַתִּי אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרָיִם”, וּכְנֶאֱמַר בַּכָּתוּב לְאַחַר זֶה שֶׁהָיָה בְּפֹעַל “וַיִּתֵּן ה’ אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרָיִם”87; “וַה’ נָתַן אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרַיִם וַיַּשְׁאִילוּם”88].

וּמוּבָן, שֶׁבְּקִיּוּם צִוּוּי כָּזֶה לֹא אִכְפַּת לָן אִם הַהֲכָנָה נַעֲשֵׂית עַל יְדֵי נֵס.

A further point can be made: In the case at hand, according to the Midrash, it was necessary for there to be a miracle, that the light illumine the hidden places, because the ultimate goal and purpose of the command to borrow the Egyptians’ property was not only so that the Jews leave with “great wealth,”5 but furthermore that they “drain Egypt [of its wealth,]” “empty[ing] it out.” Therefore, the miracle of “all the Children of Israel enjoy[ing] light” was necessary to illumine the hidden places in the Egyptians’ homes. Only through such a miraculous light was it possible to see everything that was hidden – all the Egyptians’ golden and silver articles – thus, enabling the Jews to fulfill the charge to drain Egypt of its wealth.27 By contrast, were they only able to see the readily visible valuables when searching the Egyptian’s homes, they would not have been able to carry out the command “to empty out Egypt.”28

[וְיֵשׁ לְהוֹסִיף עוֹד, שֶׁבְּנִדּוֹן דִּידָן הָיָה מֻכְרָח (לְדַעַת הַמִּדְרָשׁ) הַנֵּס לְהָאִיר אֶת הַ”מַּטְמוֹנִיּוֹת” – כִּי תַּכְלִית וּמַטָּרַת הַצִּוּוּי “וְיִשְׁאֲלוּ גו’ ” הָיְתָה (לֹא רַק שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵצְאוּ “בִּרְכוּשׁ גָּדוֹל”, אֶלָּא עוֹד זֹאת) – “וְנִצַּלְתֶּם אֶת מִצְרָיִם”, “וּתְרוֹקִנּוּן”.

וְלָכֵן הָיָה מֻכְרָח לִהְיוֹת הַנֵּס דִּ"וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר", לְהָאִיר אֶת הַמַּטְמוֹנִיּוֹת שֶׁבְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִים, כִּי דַוְקָא עַל יְדֵי אוֹר נִסִּי זֶה הָיְתָה בְּיָדָם הָאֶפְשָׁרִיּוּת לִרְאוֹת כָּל מַה שֶּׁהָיָה טָמוּן מִכְּלֵי כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב אֵצֶל הַמִּצְרִיִּים לְקַיֵּם מַה שֶּׁנֶּאֱמַר "וְנִצַּלְתֶּם אֶת מִצְרָיִם" (מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן אִם הָיוּ רוֹאִים רַק אֶת הַכֵּלִים שֶׁבַּחוּץ וְעַל יְדֵי שֶׁחִפְּשׂוּ בְּבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִיִּים, לֹא הָיוּ יְכוֹלִים לְקַיֵּם צִוּוּי זֶה לְרוֹקֵן אֶת מִצְרַיִם)].

The Difference between the Approach of the Midrash and of Rashi

5. The above explanation enables us to clarify from an inner, spiritual perspective the distinction between the interpretations of the phrase, “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings,” offered by the Midrash and Rashi regarding whether the fact that “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings” was an element of the Plague of Darkness.

ה

לְפִי זֶה יֵשׁ לְבָאֵר (עַל פִּי פְּנִימִיּוּת הָעִנְיָנִים) גַּם הַחִלּוּק בֵּין הַמִּדְרָשׁ וּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י בְּפֵרוּשׁ מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” – אִם גַּם זֶה הוּא חֵלֶק מִמַּכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ אוֹ לֹא:

Our Rabbis explain39 that the “great wealth” that the Jews took with them from Egypt also alludes to the sparks of holiness that were embedded in the land and the wealth of Egypt. By taking out the silver and gold of Egypt, the Jews also removed the sparks of holiness embedded in the evil of Egypt and returned them to the domain of holiness.

אִיתָא בִּסְפָרִים89 שֶׁהָ”רְכוּשׁ גָּדוֹל” שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הוֹצִיאוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם מְרַמֵּז גַּם עַל נִיצוֹצוֹת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה שֶׁהָיוּ נִמְצָאִים בְּאֶרֶץ (וְעִנְיְנֵי) מִצְרַיִם, דִּבְזֶה שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הוֹצִיאוּ אֶת כְּלֵי הַכֶּסֶף וכו’ שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם, הוֹצִיאוּ אֶת נִיצוֹצוֹת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה (שֶׁבָּהֶם) מִן הָרָע שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם וְהֶחֱזִירוּם לִרְשׁוּת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה.

The intent of the task of refining the sparks of holiness is fundamental to every Jew’s Divine service. A Jew is obligated to study Torah – its understanding engages his mind – and devote himself to the Divine service of prayer – there he gives expression to the feelings of his heart. These endeavors are fundamentally directed inward, to the person himself, and more particularly, to the spiritual dimensions of his personality. In addition, he must also fulfill the mitzvos (which, by and large, indeed, almost as a whole involve interacting with material entities) and carry out his personal matters40 for the sake of Heaven. In this way, he draws down holiness into the material substance of the world and elevates the sparks of holiness in the world’s material substance to the domain of holiness, as explained at length in Tanya.41

וְתֹכֶן עֲבוֹדָה זוֹ (שֶׁל “בֵּרוּר הַנִּיצוֹצוֹת”) הוּא עִנְיָן עִקָּרִי בַּעֲבוֹדַת כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, דְּנוֹסָף עַל הַחִיּוּב שֶׁל לִמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה וַעֲבוֹדַת הַתְּפִלָּה, שֶׁבְּעִקָּרָם הֵם בְּהָאָדָם עַצְמוֹ, וּבָזֶה גוּפָא – בְּרוּחָנִיּוּת שֶׁלּוֹ (הֲבָנַת הַתּוֹרָה בְּשִׂכְלוֹ וְהֶרְגֵּשׁ הַלֵּב בִּתְפִלָּה) – צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת גַּם קִיּוּם הַמִּצְוֹת (שֶׁרֻבָּן כְּכֻלָּן הֵם בִּדְבָרִים גַּשְׁמִיִּים), וְכֵן עֲשִׂיַּת דִּבְרֵי הָרְשׁוּת שֶׁלּוֹ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי זֶה מַמְשִׁיךְ קְדֻשָּׁה בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת הָעוֹלָם וּמַעֲלֶה אֶת נִיצוֹצוֹת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה שֶׁבִּדְבָרִים גַּשְׁמִיִּים לִרְשׁוּת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה (כִּמְבֹאָר בַּאֲרֻכָּה בְּסֵפֶר הַתַּנְיָא90).

It is possible to say that, according to Rashi, the above constitutes the difference between the two points mentioned by these verses:

a) the Plague of Darkness itself – this enabled the Jews to enter the Egyptians’ homes and see their valuables;

b) “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings.”

These correspond to the two types of Divine service mentioned previously. The light the Children of Israel enjoyed refers to the Divine service of Torah study and prayer through which the light of holiness shines within the dwellings of the Jewish people, within their souls and their spiritual dimensions. The Plague of Darkness and the Jews’ entry into the Egyptians’ homes refers to the Divine service of refining the world, drawing out the sparks of holiness that are embedded in material entities and elevating them to holiness.

וְיֵשׁ לוֹמַר, שֶׁלְּפִי פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י זֶהוּ הַחִלּוּק בֵּין שְׁנֵי הָעִנְיָנִים שֶׁבַּכָּתוּב – (א) עֶצֶם מַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, שֶׁנָּתְנָה אֶת הָאֶפְשָׁרוּת לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהִכָּנֵס לְבָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִים וְלִרְאוֹת אֶת כְּלֵיהֶם, (ב) “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” – שֶׁהֵם כְּנֶגֶד שְׁנֵי סוּגֵי הָעֲבוֹדָה הַנַּ”ל: הָעֲבוֹדָה דְּתוֹרָה וּתְפִלָּה, שֶׁעַל יָדָהּ מֵאִיר אוֹר הַקְּדֻשָּׁה “בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” שֶׁל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (בְּנִשְׁמָתוֹ וְרוּחָנִיּוּתוֹ), וְהָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁל זִכּוּךְ הָעוֹלָם, לְהוֹצִיא אֶת נִיצוֹצוֹת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה שֶׁבִּדְבָרִים גַּשְׁמִיִּים וּלְהַעֲלוֹתָם לִקְדֻשָּׁה.

According to a straightforward approach – as matters are seen simply, looking at the externals, these are two distinct – perhaps even opposite – modes of service. However, the Midrash – the Aggadic dimension of the Torah in which “the majority of the Torah’s mystic secrets… are embedded”42 – interprets the light that shone for the Jewish people “in their [own] dwellings” as part of the Plague of Darkness. From the standpoint of G‑d’s inner intent, the two modes of Divine service mentioned above are not separate matters but are interrelated. Even a Jew’s Divine service of Torah and prayer is ultimately intended for the sake of the task of refining and purifying the world and its material substance. As explained in Tanya,36 the soul does not descend for the sake of self-perfection, but rather to refine the body, the animal soul, and its portion of the world.

שֶׁעַל פִּי דֶּרֶךְ הַפְּשַׁט – הַיְנוּ כְּפִי שֶׁהַדְּבָרִים נִרְאִים בְּפַשְׁטוּת וּבְחִיצוֹנִיּוּת – הֲרֵי הֵם שְׁנֵי סוּגֵי עֲבוֹדָה שׁוֹנִים, וְאוּלַי גַּם סוּגִים הַפְכִּיִּים.

אָמְנָם בַּמִּדְרָשׁ – אַגָּדָה שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁ”רֹב סוֹדוֹת הַתּוֹרָה . . גְּנוּזִין בָּאַגָּדוֹת”91 – מְפָרֵשׁ שֶׁגַּם זֶה שֶׁ”וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” הוּא חֵלֶק מִמַּכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, כִּי מִצַּד הַכַּוָּנָה הַפְּנִימִית, אֵין שְׁנֵי סוּגֵי עֲבוֹדָה אֵלֶּה עִנְיָנִים שׁוֹנִים, אֶלָּא הֵם שַׁיָּכִים וּקְשׁוּרִים זֶה בָּזֶה, כִּי גַם הָעֲבוֹדָה דְּתוֹרָה וּתְפִלָּה, תַּכְלִיתָהּ הִיא בִּשְׁבִיל הָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁל בֵּרוּר וְזִכּוּךְ הָעוֹלָם (כִּמְבֹאָר בְּתַנְיָאלא, שֶׁהַנְּשָׁמָה לֹא יָרְדָה לְמַטָּה כְּדֵי לְתַקֵּן אֶת עַצְמָהּ, כִּי אִם כְּדֵי לְתַקֵּן אֶת הַגּוּף וְנַפְשׁוֹ הַבַּהֲמִית וְחֶלְקוֹ בָּעוֹלָם).

This is the inner meaning of the interpretation of the Midrash that “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings” is also an element of the Plague of Darkness. The message for us today is that even the light that shines to the Jews while they are “in their dwellings” – i.e., the light that illuminates their souls as a result of their Torah study and prayer – must be drawn down into the “Egyptians’ homes,” the darkness of the world, to enable the sparks of G‑dliness to be extracted from there and returned to the domain of holiness.

וְזֶהוּ הַתֹּכֶן הַפְּנִימִי בְּדִבְרֵי הַמִּדְרָשׁ, שֶׁגַּם זֶה שֶׁ"לְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם" הוּא חֵלֶק מִמַּכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, וְהַיְנוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁגַּם הָאוֹר הַמֵּאִיר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּשֶׁהֵם "בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם", שֶׁהוּא הָאוֹר הַמֵּאִיר בְּנִשְׁמָתָם עַל יְדֵי תּוֹרָה וּתְפִלָּה, צְרִיכִים לְהַמְשִׁיךְ וּלְהַכְנִיס בְּ"בָתֵּי הַמִּצְרִים" (חֹשֶׁךְ הָעוֹלָם), כְּדֵי שֶׁעַל יָדוֹ יוּכְלוּ לְהוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם אֶת נִיצוֹצוֹת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה הַנִּמְצָאִים שָׁם וּלְהַחֲזִירָם לִרְשׁוּת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה.

A Light Above All Darkness

6. A deeper explanation of Rashi’s approach may be offered based on “the wine of the Torah,”43implicit in his commentary. Rashi does not interpret the statement that “all the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings” as an element of the Plague of Darkness because it alludes to an even loftier matter, a rung attained after the completion of the task of refining and purifying44the material substance of the world.

ו

וּבְעֹמֶק יוֹתֵר יֵשׁ לוֹמַר, עַל פִּי הַ”יֵּינָה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה” שֶׁבְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י – דְּזֶה שֶׁלְּפִי פֵּרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י הַסִּיּוּם “וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” אֵינוֹ חֵלֶק מִמַּכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, הוּא לְפִי שֶׁבָּזֶה נִרְמָז עִנְיָן גָּבוֹהַּ עוֹד יוֹתֵר, הַבָּא לְאַחֲרֵי גְּמַר הָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁל בֵּרוּר וְזִכּוּךְ הָעוֹלָם.

As explained in many sources,45 the soul descends and carries out Divine service on this material plane for a purpose. After it concludes its service of refining and purifying the material substance of the world, the soul ascends to a higher rung than the one on which it existed before its descent. Indeed, it will merit to “be drawn into the body of the King.”46

דְּהִנֵּה מְבֹאָר בְּכַמָּה מְקוֹמוֹת, שֶׁיְּרִידַת הַנְּשָׁמָה וַעֲבוֹדָתָהּ לְמַטָּה הִיא צֹרֶךְ עֲלִיָּה, שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֵי גְּמַר עֲבוֹדָתָהּ בְּבֵרוּר וְזִכּוּךְ הָעוֹלָם מִתְעַלֵּית הַנְּשָׁמָה לְמַדְרֵגָה עֶלְיוֹנָה יוֹתֵר מִכְּפִי שֶׁהָיְתָה קֹדֶם יְרִידָתָהּ, וְעַד שֶׁזּוֹכָה “לְאִשְׁתָּאָבָא בְּגוּפָא דְמַלְכָּא”92.

This is the inner meaning of the Torah’s narrative. After completing the task of refining and purifying the material substance of the world, which is alluded to by the Plague of Darkness – through which the Jews took the Egyptians’ property from their possession and brought it into the domain of holiness – “all the Children of Israel” will merit to “enjoy light in their dwellings.” The soul will come to its true dwelling and place, the rung on which “Israel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are all one.”47On that rung, there is no place at all for Egypt or any matters associated with it. This applies even to these matters as they are refined and elevated to holiness.48All that exists is, to employ the wording of the Zohar,49“Israel alone with G‑d.”

וְזֶהוּ הַפֵּרוּשׁ הַפְּנִימִי בַּכָּתוּב, שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֵי גְּמַר הָעֲבוֹדָה בְּבֵרוּר וְזִכּוּךְ הָעוֹלָם (שֶׁזֶּה נִרְמָז בְּמַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, שֶׁעַל יָדָהּ הוֹצִיאוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת רְכוּשָׁם שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם וְהִכְנִיסוּהוּ בִּרְשׁוּת הַקְּדֻשָּׁה) – זוֹכִים לְ"וּלְכָל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הָיָה אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם", שֶׁהַנְּשָׁמָה בָּאָה לְמוֹשָׁבָהּ וּמְקוֹמָהּ הָאֲמִתִּי, יִשְׂרָאֵל וְקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא כּוּלָּא חַד, שֶׁשָּׁם אֵין מָקוֹם כְּלָל לִמְצִיאוּת שֶׁל מִצְרַיִם וְעִנְיְנֵי מִצְרַיִם (אֲפִלּוּ לֹא כְּפִי שֶׁהֵם מִתְבָּרְרִים וְעוֹלִים לִקְדֻשָּׁה)93, כִּי אִם רַק (בִּלְשׁוֹן הַזֹּהַר94) יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמַלְכָּא בִּלְחוֹדוֹהִי.

Toward the Ultimate Light

7. From the above, we can draw great encouragement for our Divine service in the present age, in this final exile. Even though we are living in an era suffused in the darkness of exile, the double and redoubled darkness50 of ikvesa demeshicha, the era when Mashiach’s approaching footsteps can be heard, nevertheless, G‑d brings about a process of causation, including even circumstances that transcend the natural order, so that the Jews will be able to carry out their Divine service without obstacles or hindrances.

ז

וּמִזֶּה יֵשׁ לִלְמוֹד גַּם עִדּוּד גָּדוֹל בַּעֲבוֹדָתֵנוּ עַתָּה, בְּגָלוּתֵנוּ זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן:

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּמְצָאִים אָנוּ בִּזְמַן שֶׁל “חֹשֶׁךְ הַגָּלוּת”, וּבָזֶה גוּפָא – חֹשֶׁךְ כָּפוּל וּמְכֻפָּל95 דְּעִקְבְתָא דִמְשִׁיחָא, הֲרֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְסַבֵּב סִבּוֹת, וְעַד לְאוֹפַנִּים שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִן הַטֶּבַע, כְּדֵי שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יוּכְלוּ לַעֲבוֹד עֲבוֹדָתָם בְּלִי שׁוּם מְנִיעוֹת וְעִכּוּבִים.

True, all the above-mentioned modes of Divine service must be carried out within the context of the natural order.51 Nonetheless, that general principle applies to the observance of the mitzvos on the part of the Jewish people. However, with regard to the situation in the world – what is necessary to enable the Jews to carry out their Divine service in a full sense – there are no limitations. G‑d even performs overt miracles to enable the Jews to carry out their Divine service in a natural manner.

The Plague of Darkness serves as a paradigm: G‑d worked an overt miracle and brought darkness of a supernatural form upon the Egyptians so that the Jews could search for and find their valuables in a natural manner. Similarly, regarding the story concerning the Alter Rebbe cited above,45 he worked a miracle so that the official would willingly stop the boat.

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכָּל הָעִנְיָנִים הַנַּ”ל צְרִיכִים לִהְיוֹת בְּדַרְכֵי הַטֶּבַע דַּוְקָא – הֲרֵי זֶה בְּמַה שֶּׁנּוֹגֵעַ לְקִיּוּם הַמִּצְוָה מִצַּד בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֲבָל בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לְהַמַּצָּב (בָּעוֹלָם) הַנִּדְרָשׁ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל יוּכְלוּ לַעֲבוֹד עֲבוֹדָתָם בְּמִלּוּאָהּ, אֵין שׁוּם הַגְבָּלוֹת, וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה גַּם נִסִּים גְּלוּיִים כְּדֵי לְאַפְשֵׁר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲבוֹד עֲבוֹדָתָם בְּדַרְכֵי הַטֶּבַע [כְּמוֹ בְּמַכַּת חֹשֶׁךְ, שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עָשָׂה נֵס גָּלוּי וְהֵבִיא חֹשֶׁךְ נִסִּי עַל הַמִּצְרִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל יוּכְלוּ לְחַפֵּשׂ וְלִמְצוֹא הַכֵּלִים בְּאֹפֶן טִבְעִי (מִצִּדָּם); וְכֵן בְּסִפּוּר הַנַּ”ל מֵאַדְמוּ”ר הַזָּקֵן, שֶׁפָּעַל עַל יְדֵי נֵס, שֶׁהַפָּקִיד עַצְמוֹ יִרְצֶה לַעֲצוֹר אֶת הַסְּפִינָה].

How much more so does the above apply according to the interpretation of the Midrash, that a miraculous light was also manifest. Certainly, this also was not merely a one-time event that occurred only during the redemption from Egypt, but this pattern will also occur in the redemption from the present exile, following the motif, “As in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show [the people] wonders.”52

Even while we are in a present-day land of Egypt, before the coming of the Redemption, a transcendent light illumines our lives, as the prophet Yeshayahu states53 – in a verse quoted in the abovementioned passage from the Midrash54 – that even when “darkness will cover the land and absolute darkness, the nations, G‑d will illumine for you.”

וְעַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה לְפִי פֵּרוּשׁ הַמִּדְרָשׁ, שֶׁהָיָה כַּאן גַּם אוֹר נִסִּי – שֶׁוַּדַּאי גַּם עִנְיָן זֶה אֵינוֹ רַק דָּבָר חַד-פְּעָמִי שֶׁאֵרַע בִּגְאֻלַּת מִצְרַיִם, אֶלָּא מֵעֵין זֶה הוּא גַּם בִּגְאֻלָּה מִגָּלוּת זֶה הָאַחֲרוֹן (שֶׁהִיא “כִּימֵי צֵאתְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם”96), שֶׁגַּם בִּהְיוֹתֵנוּ בְּ”אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם” (קֹדֶם בּוֹא הַגְּאֻלָּה) מֵאִיר אוֹר שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מֵהַטֶּבַע, וּבִלְשׁוֹן הַכָּתוּב97 (הוּבָא בְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ הָעִנְיָן בַּמִּדְרָשׁ הַנַּ”ל98), דְּגַם כְּשֶׁ”הַחֹשֶׁךְ יְכַסֶּה אֶרֶץ וַעֲרָפֶל לְאֻמִּים (מִכָּל מָקוֹם) וְעָלַיִךְ יִזְרַח ה’ וגו’ ”.

Moreover, the influence of the light will be even greater. It will grant the Jews the potential to transform into holiness even the matters that are suffused in the darkness of this world and externally appear to conceal and hide G‑dliness and prevent a person from carrying out G‑d’s commandments. These seemingly negative factors will be completely transformed to the extent that they will assist the Jews with carrying out G‑d’s commandments, just as Pharaoh helped the Jews leave the Egyptian exile.55

וִיתֵרָה מִזּוֹ, אֲשֶׁר אוֹר זֶה נוֹתֵן הַכֹּחַ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לַהֲפוֹךְ לִקְדֻשָּׁה גַּם אֶת הָעִנְיָנִים שֶׁבְּחֹשֶׁךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר בְּחִיצוֹנִיּוּת נִרְאֶה שֶׁהֵם דְּבָרִים הַמַּעֲלִימִים וּמַסְתִּירִים וּמוֹנְעִים אֶת הָאָדָם מִלְּקַיֵּים צִוּוּיוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא,

וְעַד שֶׁהֵם עַצְמָם מְסַיְּעִים וְעוֹזְרִים לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְקַיֵּם צִוּוּיֵי ה’, בְּדֻגְמַת מַה שֶּׁפַּרְעֹה עַצְמוֹ סִיַּע וְעָזַר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לָצֵאת מִגָּלוּת מִצְרַיִם.

The explanation of a verse in Scripture never departs from its straightforward meaning.56“All the Children of Israel enjoyed light in their dwellings” promises that even in the final stages of the era of exile, the Jewish people – as a whole and also every individual Jew – will have “light in their dwellings,” in both a material and spiritual sense.

וְאֵין מִקְרָא יוֹצֵא מִידֵי פְשׁוּטוֹ, וְזֶהוּ הָעִקָּר, שֶׁבְּסוֹף זְמַן הַגָּלוּת יֶשְׁנוֹ “אוֹר בְּמוֹשְׁבוֹתָם” דִּכְלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּבְכָל אֶחָד וְאַחַת מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, כִּפְשׁוּטוֹ בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת וּבְרוּחָנִיּוּת, שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַרְחָבָה וּמְנוּחָה בְּכָל עִנְיָנָיו,

May each member of the Jewish people enjoy prosperity and peace of mind in all of his affairs and may this enable them to prepare themselves with joy and gladness of heart to greet Mashiach, “with our youth and our elders… with our sons and our daughters,”57taking “their silver and gold with them.”58May this take place in both a plain, straightforward sense and in a spiritual sense,59 in our time, in the nearest future.

וּמְכִינִים עַצְמָם מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה וְטוּב לֵבָב לְקַבֵּל פְּנֵי מָשִׁיחַ צִדְקֵנוּ, בִּנְעָרֵינוּ וּבִזְקֵנֵינוּ בְּבָנֵינוּ וּבִבְנוֹתֵינוּ99 וְכַסְפָּם וּזְהָבָם אִתָּם100, כִּפְשׁוּטוֹ וְכֵן בְּרוּחָנִיּוּת הָעִנְיָנִים, בְּקָרוֹב מַמָּשׁ בַּעֲגָלָא דִידָן.

Likkutei Sichos, Volume 31, p. 46ff. Adapted from the sichosdelivered on ShabbosParshasBo, 5741 [1981], and ShabbosParshasVayakhel-Pekudei. 5745 [1985]

(משיחות ש״פ בא תשמ״א, ש״פ ויק״פ תשמ״ה)