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"She is my sister"
Before Avraham goes down into the land of Egypt, he attaches himself to the divine presence known as the Shechinah. The word Egypt is a code for negativity and darkness. The spiritual principle concealed in this story can be revealed by analogy. If a person lowers himself into a deep, darkened pit, filled with deadly snakes, to retrieve a great treasure, he first secures himself to a powerful rope to ensure a safe retreat. The rope becomes his lifeline as he enters into a dangerous environment. Avraham attached himself to the force called Shechinah before he entered into the pit of negativity [Egypt] so that he would maintain a lifeline to the Creator.
The Relevance of this Passage
There are moments in life when negative situations consume us. Without supernal assistance, we fall prey to the traps and lures set up by the forces of negativity. We are building for ourselves a secure lifeline to the Creator for those difficult moments in life when we stumble and fall into negativity.
342. "And Avraham journeyed from there toward the south country" (Beresheet 20:1). All of Avraham's journeys were to the south, WHICH IS CHESED, rather than in any other direction. He planned wisely, so that he would be attached to the south.
343. "And Avraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister..." (Beresheet 20:2). We have learned that a person should not rely on miracles. If the Holy One, blessed be He, performs a miracle for somebody, he should not rely on a miracle another time, because miracles do not simply occur at any given time.
344. A person who knowingly puts himself in danger may use up all of his merits, because, as it is written: "I am unworthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the trust..." (Beresheet 32:11). AND HE ASKS: If Avraham knew that his emergence from Egypt was a miracle, why did he put himself into difficulty again by saying, "She is my sister?"
345. AND HE REPLIES: Avraham did not rely on himself at all, but saw the Shechinah dwelling constantly in Sarah's residence, from which She never moved. And because THE SHECHINAH was there, Avraham relied on Her and said, "She is my sister," as it is written: "Say to Wisdom, You are my sister" (Mishlei 7:4). THIS MEANS THAT THE SHECHINAH IS ALSO CALLED WISDOM. Therefore he said, "She is my sister."
346. "But Elohim came to Avimelech..." HE ASKS: Could it be that the Holy One, blessed be He, visits the wicked, as it is written: "and Elohim came to Bilaam" (Bemidbar 22:9) and "Elohim came to Lavan" (Beresheet 31:24)? AND HE REPLIES: This was only a Governor, a messenger who was in charge over them, as EVERY NATION HAS A CELESTIAL GOVERNOR. When ANGELS complete their missions, WHICH THEY RECEIVE FROM HASHEM, they are called by the holy name ELOHIM, because they represented the aspect of Judgment AND THE NAME ELOHIM IS AN INDICATION OF JUDGMENT. This is why it is written: "But Elohim came to Avimelech, in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, you are but a dead man for the woman which you have taken," (Beresheet 20:3) REFERRING ONLY TO THE ANGEL THAT GOVERNS HIS NATION AND NOT TO THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE.
347. Rabbi Shimon opened the discourse with the verse: "The language of truth shall be established forever..." (Mishlei 12:19) This refers to Avraham, whose words were always truthful. The phrase, "but a lying tongue is but for a moment" (Ibid.), however, refers to Avimelech.
348. Of Avraham it is written: "And Avraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister." This is similar to what he said IN EGYPT, when he said to the Shechinah that accompanied Sarah, "She is my sister." SO TWICE AVRAHAM SAID, "SHE IS MY SISTER," AND REFERRED TO THE SHECHINAH WHEN HE SAID IT. And Avraham did EVERYTHING wisely.
349. HE ASKS: Why IS THE SHECHINAH CALLED SISTER? AND HE RESPONDS: Because Avraham is related to the right side, he said, "She is my sister." And the secret corresponds to what is written: "my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled" (Shir Hashirim 5:2). And Avraham always called Her "my sister" because he cleaved to Her and they were never separated.
350. In the end, it is written: "And yet indeed she is my sister, she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother" (Beresheet 20:12). SO HE ASKS: Was IT REALLY so? WAS SHE NOT THE DAUGHTER OF HARAN? AND HE REPLIES: Everything that he said was a reference to the Shechinah. "She is my sister," that he said in the beginning is similar to, "Say to Wisdom, You are my sister." And he concluded, "And yet indeed." What is MEANT BY "And"? It expands THE EXPLANATION with: "she is my sister, the daughter of my father," WHICH MEANS THAT THE SHECHINAH is a daughter of the supernal Chochmah, WHICH IS THE SUPERNAL ABA AND IMA, BOTH OF WHICH ARE CALLED ABA. This is why THE SHECHINAH is called his 'Sister' and 'Wisdom', but not, AS STATED IN THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH, "the daughter of my mother." THIS MEANS THAT "MY MOTHER" IS DRAWN from the place where everything begins and where everything is concealed, WHICH IS ARICH ANPIN. FROM ARICH ANPIN, THE SECRET OF BINAH THAT RETURNS TO BECOME CHOCHMAH IS DRAWN. BINAH BECOMES ENCLOTHED BY YISRAEL-SABA AND TENUVAH, COLLECTIVELY CALLED IMA. SO THE SHECHINAH HERE IS NOT A "DAUGHTER," BUT RATHER A "MOTHER" HERSELF, AS SHE ENCLOTHES HER. Therefore, BECAUSE SHE IS THE ASPECT OF THE LEFT, FROM THE SIDE OF THE MOTHER, "she became my wife" in fondness and affection as expressed in the verse, "and his right hand embraces me" (Shir Hashirim 8:3). SHE LONGS FOR THE CHASSADIM OF THE RIGHT, SO THAT HER CHOCHMAH MAY BE ENCLOTHED BY THE CHASSADIM. All this is according to the secret of Wisdom.
351. Come and behold: when they first went down to Egypt, he said, "SHE IS MY SISTER" in order to cleave to the Faith. Therefore, he called Her "my sister," so that they would not be mistaken and follow those grades outside HOLINESS. So here as well, WITH AVIMELECH, he said, "my sister" in order not to be diverted from the proper Faith.
352. This is because Avimelech and all the inhabitants of the land followed idolatry, while AVRAHAM cleaved to the Faith. So when he entered there, he said OF THE SHECHINAH, "She is my sister." Just as a sister can never be separated from a brother, so here as well, AVRAHAM WAS ATTACHED TO THE SHECHINAH IN SUCH A MANNER THAT THEY COULD NEVER BE SEPARATED. Although a wife can be separated FROM HER HUSBAND, a sister can never be separated FROM HER BROTHER, because two siblings can never ever be separated.
353. Thus Avraham said, "She is my sister." Everybody was enthusiastic about running after and worshipping the lights of the stars and constellations, but Avraham cleaved to the Faith and said ABOUT THE SHECHINAH, "She is my sister," and we shall never be separated from each other. You may derive this FROM THE WORDS: "And for his sister a virgin," (Vayikra 21:3) which has been said about the priest, but signifies the place where Avraham, WHO IS THE RIGHT COLUMN AND CHESED, resides. THE SHECHINAH IS CALLED HIS "VIRGIN SISTER" BECAUSE, FROM THE ASPECT OF THE RIGHT SIDE, THE SHECHINAH IS CALLED BOTH A "SISTER" AND A "DAUGHTER."
354. It is written: "You shall fear Hashem your Elohim, Him you shall serve, and to Him you shall cleave, and swear by his Name" (Devarim 10:20). This phrase has already been explained, but nevertheless, come and behold. It is not written: 'Hashem (to Hashem) your Elohim you shall have fear,' USING THE DATIVE CASE, but only "fear (Heb. et) Hashem." So what does THE ACCUSATIVE PARTICLE Et mean? It refers to the first grade OF THE TEN SFIROT, COUNTING UPWARD, NAMELY THE NUKVA, WHICH IS the region of fear of the Holy One, blessed be He. Therefore, it is written: "You shall fear," because there, IN THE NUKVA, a person should fear his Master, as She represents Judgment.
355. "And him (Heb. oto) you shall serve" alludes to the upper grade, NAMELY YESOD OF ZEIR ANPIN, which resides above this lower grade, WHICH IS THE NUKVA, and they are never separated from each other. THESE TWO WORDS, Et ('the') and Oto ('him') cleave to each other and are never separated. SO HE ASKS: What does "Oto" mean? AND HE ANSWERS: This is the region of the Holy Covenant, an everlasting sign (Heb. ot) THAT REFERS TO YESOD, because no worshipping is done in Et ('the'), which does not pertain to service, but to fear. But service is above IN YESOD OF ZEIR ANPIN, WHICH IS NAMED OTO. And this is why IT IS WRITTEN: "him (Heb. oto) you shall serve."
356. The phrase, "and to Him you shall cleave" refers to the region where cleaving occurs, which is the center of the body, NAMELY IN THE CENTRAL COLUMN, WHICH IS TIFERET AND LIES BETWEEN THE TWO ARMS, WHICH ARE CHESED AND GVURAH, WHO REPRESENT THE TWO COLUMNS--LEFT AND RIGHT. The words, "and swear (Heb. tishave'a) by His name" refer to the seventh (Heb. sheva) region among the grades, NAMELY THE NUKVA, WHICH IS RELATED TO THE SECRET OF SHABBAT. And this is learned from the verse: "and David their king, whom I will raise up for them" (Yirmeyah 30:9).
357. This is how Avraham cleaved to the Faith. THIS IS AN ALLUSION TO THE SECRET OF THE SHECHINAH AT THE GRADE OF 'SISTER', when he went down to Egypt and when he went to the land of the Philistines. This is similar to a person who plans to descend into a deep pit, but is afraid that he may not be able to climb back out. What does he do? He fastens a rope high above the pit, and says to himself: Now that I have tied this knot, I will enter the pit. Similarly, before Avraham went to Egypt, he secured himself with the knot of Faith. Only after this was secure did he travel to Egypt.
358. And he did the same when he entered the land of the Philistines. This is why it is written: "The language of truth is established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment." (Mishlei 12:19) THIS APPLIES TO Avimelech, who said: "In the integrity of my heart and the innocency of my hands have I done this" (Beresheet 20:5). But ELOHIM answered him by saying: "I know that you did this in the simplicity of your heart" (Ibid. 6). He did not say, 'and innocence of your hands,' AS AVIMELECH CLAIMED. THUS, AVIMELECH LIED WHEN HE SAID, "AND THE INNOCENCY OF MY HANDS," AND THIS IS WHY IT IS WRITTEN OF HIM: "BUT A LYING TONGUE IS BUT FOR A MOMENT."
359. "Now, restore to the man his wife, for he is a prophet" (Beresheet 20:7). Rabbi Yehuda began the discussion with the verse, "He guards the feet of his pious ones (Heb. chasidav)..." (I Shmuel 2:9). Chasidav is spelled WITHOUT THE LETTER YUD, WHICH INDICATES THAT THE VERSE APPLIES to one PIOUS MAN. And this is Avraham, who is always protected by the Holy One, blessed be He, as He never removed His protection from over him. It is written, "He guards the feet" BECAUSE "THE FEET" allude to AVRAHAM'S wife, along with whom, in order to guard her, the Holy One, blessed be He, sent His Shechinah.
360. Another explanation of the verse: "He guards the feet of his pious ones" IS THAT CHASIDAV IS WRITTEN WITHOUT THE LETTER YUD, WHICH IMPLIES One. That one was Avraham, who was always accompanied by the Holy One, blessed be He, so that nobody could harm him. "...and the wicked shall be silent in darkness..." refers to the kings whom the Holy One, blessed be He, had slain during that night that Avraham pursued them.
361. Therefore, it is written: "shall be silent in darkness," WHICH MEANS the night, NAMELY THE NUKVA. Avraham pursued the kings, and the night, as it became united with the darkness, slew the kings. Thus, it is written: "And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night (lit. 'And the night divided upon them) and smote them" (Beresheet 14:15). Therefore, the phrase, "And the night divided upon them" refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, who separated Judgment from Mercy, in order to avenge Avraham. Thus, IT IS WRITTEN: "and the wicked shall be silent in darkness...and (he) smote them." It should have been written: 'and (they) smote them' IN THE PLURAL, BECAUSE AVRAHAM AND HIS SERVANTS SMOTE THEM. But of course, it was the Holy One, blessed be He, WHO REALLY SMOTE THEM, "for by strength shall no man prevail," (I Shmuel 2:9) as he was alone there with Eliezer. THE NUMERICAL VALUE OF ELIEZER IS 318 AND AVRAHAM HAD 318 SERVANTS, WHICH ARE MENTIONED IN THE SCRIPTURES.
362. Rabbi Yitzchak said: But we have learned that where harm is expected, a person should not depend on a miracle to save him. And there is no place more dangerous than that into which Avraham pursued the four kings to wage war against them. WHY, THEN, DID HE RELY ON A MIRACLE TO HAPPEN? Rabbi Yehuda responded: Avraham did not set out with the intention of waging war, nor did he rely on the occurrence of a miracle. Rather, he left his house because of the distress of Lot, whom he planned to ransom and free. And had he not been able to free him, he would have died with him in captivity. But as soon as he began his journey, he saw the Shechinah shining in front of him and armies OF ANGELS surrounding him. At that time, he started to pursue them while the Holy One, blessed be He, slew them. This is why it is written: "and the wicked shall be silent in darkness."
363. Rabbi Shimon said: There is a secret hidden in the verse, "He guards the feet of his pious," who is Avraham. When Avraham set out TO WAGE WAR ON THE KINGS, Yitzchak joined him. And they fell before him. If Yitzchak had not joined Avraham, he would not have been able to slay them, as it is written: "and the wicked shall be silent in darkness." "...by strength shall no man prevail." Even though strength always lies with the right, WHICH IS AVRAHAM, if THE RIGHT was not included within the left side, WHICH IS YITZCHAK, then THE KINGS would not have retreated before him.
364. Another explanation of the verse, "He guards the feet of his pious ones" is that when a person loves the Holy One, blessed be He, the Holy One, blessed be He, returns that love by guarding all that he does and his journeys. As it is written: "Hashem shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth and even for evermore" (Tehilim 121:8).
365. Come and behold: observe how much Avraham loved the Holy One, blessed be He. Wherever he went, he had no regard for his possessions at all. All his thoughts were directed toward cleaving to the Holy One, blessed be He, alone. Therefore, the verse "He guards the feet of his pious" alludes to his wife, BECAUSE HIS FEET ALLUDE TO HIS WIFE, about whom it is written: "Now Avimelech had not come near her," (Beresheet 20:4) and also, "therefore I did not allow you to touch her" (Ibid. 6).
366. About Pharaoh, it is written: "And Hashem plagued Pharaoh, and his house with great plagues" (Beresheet 12:17). SARAH spoke out directly to the Holy One, blessed be He, ASKING HIM TO SMITE, and He smote. It is written: "He guards the feet of the pious (ones), and the wicked are silent in darkness," BECAUSE it was Pharaoh and Avimelech on whom the Holy One, blessed be He, inflicted Judgments at night--BY DARKNESS. Who is the "man" referred to in the verse: "for by strength shall no man prevail? " This man is Avraham, as it is written: "Now therefore, restore the man his wife..." (Beresheet 20:7)
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