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Taking It With You-Mishpatim-Aleinu

Our sages teach us, “On the Red Sea, God appeared to them like a young boy, while at Sinai, He appeared like an old man.” At first thought, this is extremely difficult to understand, since it is written, “You have not seen any image (To see Deuteronomy 4:15).” We can explain this with an example. When a parent loves his child, this great love causes the child’s image to be engraved on the parent’s mind. It is therefore as if the child were actually standing in the presence of the parent. When the child is young, he exists in his parent’s mind in the image of a small child. Later, when he grows, the image in the parent’s thoughts is that of an older person.


It is known that, “Israel rose first in thought.” This means that they are constantly engraved in the Supernal Thought, just as a child is in its parent’s mind. When a child acts properly and does what its parent wishes, this is the image that is engraved in its parent’s thoughts. The same is true when the child goes against its parent’s wishes.

It is thus written, “If God will wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion (Isaiah 4:4).” It is God Himself, to the extent that we can express it, who washes Himself of the, “Filth of the daughters of Zion.” Israel is engraved in God’s thoughts and therefore, He must “wash” these thoughts.

The same is true for the good of Israel. It is written, “God shall lift up His face to you (Numbers 6:26).” God will lift up the face of His people, which is engraved in His thoughts.

It is known that at the time of the Exodus from Egypt, Israel was like a fetus torn out of its mother’s womb (Ezekiel 16:4). When they crossed the Red Sea, they were like young children who had just been weaned. Like small children, they had some speech, but it was not perfected. This is the mystery of the teaching that the people of Israel could not sing out to God, but could only repeat what Moses said. Moses therefore told them, “You must remain still (Exodus 14:14).” Israel was like a young child, and could not yet speak perfectly.

We are therefore taught, “At the Red Sea, He appeared to them as a young boy.” What they witnessed at the time was the Supernal Thought. Israel was then like a young child, therefore the Supernal Thought was also revealed as a young boy.

This aspect of youth was not rectified until Israel came to Marah. When they first came to Marah is therefore written, “they were bitter (Exodus 15:23).” Israel was still bitter and unripe, and there they were “sweetened,” they ripened and matured.

When Israel finally came to Mount Sinai, they had already attained the ability to learn. Thus, they were able to say, “We will do and we will hear (Exodus 24:7).” They could say this because they had already attained the Supernal Wisdom. They therefore entered into the mystery of Old Age. The Sages thus say, “Old, Zaken, is Zeh Kanah, ‘this one has earned’ wisdom (Kiddushin 32b).”

We are therefore taught that, “At Sinai He appeared like an old man.” The image of Israel engraved in the Supernal Thought was then that of an old man. (Magid Devrav l’Yaakov 229)

We should keep this idea of Israel’s image being engraved in the Supernal Thought, and the image of God being engraved in our Supernal Wisdom, when we say the Aleinu: It is this powerful connection to God that empowers us to repair the world in the Kingdom of God.

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