It is written: ולא שמעו אל-משה מקצר רוח Velo shamu el-Moshe mikotser ruach, “But they hearkened not unto Moshe for impatience of spirit” (Shemot 6:9, Va’era). The Rashi here says, “But they did not listened to Moshe. They did not accept the consolation. That is, they [the people] got completely desperate over being redeemed at any time due to their shortness of breath. Anyone who is under stress, his wind and breath are short, and he cannot breathe deeply”. The lack of air to breathe is what a person feels when drowning. She can only have a few short respirations, not enough to sustain her. This is what the moment of stress causes in the individual. Behold, the gematria katan of this pasuk is 78, the same as Mabul (the “Deluge”): mem-bet-vav-lamed = 40 + 2 + 6 + 30 = 78. Mystically, the word mabul alludes to the removal of the vital Divine force. This is why the sense of desperation occurs, because the “turbulent waters” from stress rise and “flood” the person’s mind, so to speak. And when we calculate the “regression” (the vision of the posterior/achorayim) of the 3 Divine Names (the manner in which the Tetragram/YKVK is spelled) – the 72-letter Name (Shem Ayn Bet), the 63-letter Name (Shem SaG), and finally the 45-letter Name (Shem MaH) – we have a total of 78 letters, indicating (by the regression of these iterations of the Divine Names) a “withdrawal” of the Shem Havaya (YKVK) from the world, signifying in the global scale the earth’s “drowning” and its demise. Now, we can understand why stress is so dangerous!
On a certain night during the week of parashat Bo, in the month of Tevet 5774, I was meditating as I always do, expanding my conscious with the millennia old mental exercises from the Torah. And it was them that suddenly I felt as if I had entered into something – it was another environment. When I realize that this dimensional translation took place, I immediately began feeling a great primal anxiety, generated by the biological instinct that sharpen the senses when we find ourselves in an unknown habitat. My heart accelerated. And with the eyes of the mind, there I saw and all dark environment, not like the darkness of the night but rather as if in some manner the sunlight was absent during the day. In this great region, different things and objects shined with intense colors. The colors were strong, almost saturated. The only light there were the one coming from these things and objects, for all the rest was the purest of darkness. There were no bright stars shining, nor visible heavenly bodies, nothing. Only the intense darkness and the things and objects with their strong and gleaming colors that shined the path in that place. I thought I was in another dimension, being allowed to see another physical location in the universe. I even prepared myself for a possible encounter with some being. However, at that moment, I lost focus and came back to the state I was before the meditation. But, a few seconds later, I returned to that place and the same anxiety came back to ravage me. I did not see anything different in this second experience, but only confirmed the vision of the first one: full darkness and objects of varied sizes with intense colors that were the only light source in the place. Moreover, I could see everything as if standing somewhat above ground, or on top of a mount. Both experiences did not last much, perhaps a minute, but it seemed like an eternity… And it was when I started to meditate again and soon after I heard what I heard: “That what you saw was truly the singular darkness from the Makat Choshech [‘the plague of darkness’]. The colorful lights were the divine sparks exceedingly revealed from the objects and treasures that the Jews got during the three days of this plague. And this is why it is written, ולכל בני ישראל היה אור במושבתם Ulechol-bnei Yisrael haya or bemoshvotam, ‘All the children of Israel had light in their dwellings’ [Shemot 10:23]”. I then finished my meditation. After this once more incredible experience, I investigated and found that the gematria atbash of this pasuk is 2370, that is, 10 times 237, that being the gematria of Zichri, (“My Remembrance”, spelled: zayin-chaf-reish-yud = 7 + 20 + 200 + 10 = 237) – this being the expression used by Hashem in His revelation to Moshe (Shemot 3:15) and to refer Himself to the Shem Havaya (YKVK) saying, “This is My Name forever, and this is My Remembrance [zichri] for all generations”. I understood that the relation here to my experience is that everything Hashem does is eternal and can be remembered, that is, “accessed” and truly experienced. The Torah all in of itself are made of infinite portals of space-time. When a person studies, meditates and understand Torah as alive and dynamic, the light shine in his “dwellings”: his mind and life.
“Consider a rasha/evil person that in some manner finds himself in Gan Eden, going and coming amongst the tzaddikim/just people that sear in the splendor of their crowns of glory, bathing themselves in the light of the Shechina. The tzaddikim experience there indescribable pleasures, while he suffers incommensurably. Completely unaccustomed to spirituality, for the rasha, this Gan Eden is an incomparable discomfort. As such, this is the essence of the makat choshech [‘the plague of darkness’]. And thus Moshe brought the darkness below, for he ‘extended his hand above the Heavens’ [Shemot 10:21] and Egypt fell in a darkness like never seen before” (the Slonimer Rebbe, Netivot Shalom, Parashat Bo).
The makat choshech meant a tzimtzum (“contraction and restriction”) of the light of Hashem and its physical manifestation. Truly, first a tzimtzum occurred at the spiritual level, in the degree of נטה ידך על-השמים Nete yadecha al’hashamayim, “Extend your hand to the Heaven” (Shemot 10:21), which was the command Hashem gave to Moshe to begin this plague on Egypt. And the ordinal gematria (mispar siduri, in the sofit version) of this pasuk is 166. This is the numerical value for the “regression” (i.e., the posterior/achorayim vision) of the Shem SaG (Name of Hashem spelled with 63 letters, being that the gematria of SaG equals 63). The Shem SaG is associated to Binah, and in man, it means the power of rational intellect. When the Holy Name is “regressed”, this indicates a diminishing or immaturity in the rational understanding – a state of contraction and restriction of the consciousness. In a level, the darkness indicates exactly the incapacity to see, hence rationally understand, resulting from the withdrawal of Divine light. Now, in the physical level, the material darkness is the actual result of this spiritual regression. This is the reason that immediately following the verse says, “That there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt”. Now we can understand something more. For the talmid/student still distant from Torah, everything is strange, uncomfortable and devoid of meaning. The light of Torah, through the words of the rebbe/master, is so strong that the students close their eyes and hid themselves with fear from the great intensity of this Divine irradiation. Then, in this period, they still exist against a thick darkness, in a state of rational immaturity. With the eyes completed closed, they fear opening them to then experience the restrictive reality of their own (private) Egypt. In time and great patience from the master, as they begin opening their eyes so unaccustomed to see the spiritual truths, the light finally begins to enter them, at least to some degree. Finally, they begin perceiving that there is אור במושבתם Or bemoshvotam, “Light in their dwellings” (Shemot 10:23). In fact, the gematria of the millui/spelling of this pasuk is 997, with two for the kollel for each one of the two words we have 999 – the same numerical value of the Holy Name Kel Shakai (“G-d Almighty”), which refers to the level of “Creator of the world”*. Now, more illuminated, they can be cured and redeemed, and in this way begin revealing the aspect of Mashiach that exists in each and every one, G-d willing.
* The Sages note that the word shakai can be interpreted as meaning “He who [sha-] said ‘enough’ [-dai] for the expansion of the world, at the end of the week of creation” (Talmud, Chagigah 12a).