A gitte voch! In the Zohar in Saba Mishpatim, there’s an interesting idea brought out, partially based on a Gemoro in Brochos, that states that someone who doesn’t render thanks to Hashem is reincarnated as an inferior sort of creature due. While we are not supposed to be too heavily involved in these sorts of reckonings, in regards to Gilgulim (Reincarnation) and how someone is brought into the world a certain way, this ties in with an aspect of Parshas Voero.
In next week’s parsha, Parshas Bo, when describing the makas bechoros (plague of firstborns), Hashem says that he shall render judgement upon all the Elohei Mitzrayim, the Gods of Egypt. Reasonably you’ll probably wonder why this is relevant to the above Zohar passage, especially since they’re from entirely different parshiyos. There is an idea brought from early sources that each one of the plagues was attacking a different god of the Egyptians and rendering judgement upon them. Ramban explains this is because they were actually Malachim (Angels) that convinced the Egyptians to worship them, so Hashem was punishing the angels for their insolence.
So this week the Mitzri’im are plagued with Sh’chin (Boils). This is curious because there isn’t such an obvious connection between explicitly Egyptian deities and this specific plague. This is when it’s helpful to view Torah through the lens of Chassidus and Kabbalah, which helps us understand the internal and spiritual aspects of Torah, rather than the simple exoteric meanings. Viewing Mitzrayim as the archetype of absolute gashmiyus (corporeality) and impurity, and the Mitzr’im (Egyptians) themselves being those immersed in and a part of this mindset, helps understand the significance of Sh’chin. The boils covering the flesh of all the Mitzri’im shows Hashem destroying the false god of vanity, that is worship of the body. Typically as Jews we tend to associate this particular obsession with the Greeks, but this applied to the Egyptians as well, where everyone of any remote means had huge amounts of makeup, skin oils and ointments, etc. For sure it makes sense they would be plagued with boils, since they spent so much time curating their bodies to the degree it became an obsession and pure vanity.
An extension of this idea of worshiping the self leads to not rendering thanks to God. Rather than saying, “Thank God, I managed to get my project done on time,” or “Boruch Hashem, I have been blessed to be intelligent” etc. it is easy to fall into the habit of taking credit for our individual accomplishments or traits. The ultimate truth is that Hashem is the only one Who does anything in this world, even though we have to do some amount of work to get things done, this is only to be done with the knowledge that we are only a shliach (agent) or k’li (vessel) to accomplish Hashem’s Will. Without this, and taking credit for our learning, work we do, intelligence or looks, etc. this leads us into the false deity of vanity, which we must be cautious to avoid as much as possible.
A gitte voch, a mazeldige voch, a gezinte voch! Hashem should bentsh us all with simcha, menuchas hanefesh, yishuv hadaas, and we should merit to see the Geulah Shleimah!