Fire and Ice – Your weekly message from Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

December 31, 2010 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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In this week’s Parsha we read the story of the ten plagues that punished the Egyptians and made way for the final exodus from Egypt.

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

The seventh plague was hail. Enormous hailstones rained down, destroying Egyptian crop and damaging their fields. But then the Torah adds a miraculous detail that is somewhat puzzling. It tells us that each hail stone contained a flame of fire that burned inside the ice. What purpose did that fire serve?

The Zohar explains that the ten plagues were not sent just to dismantle Egypt’s infrastructure. They were powerful forces that provided the Jews with strategies for spiritual rehabilitation. Each plague carried with it an important lesson in the journey of growth and true freedom.

Hail is cold and icy and symbolizes insensitivity and indifference to other people and their needs. The “hail’ personality is someone that appears to lack the capacity to care, to be compassionate or to love. This is someone that seems totally cold and couldn’t care about anyone or anything. Is this person beyond hope? Can a spark of love be ignited?

With this plague the Torah declares that even the stone hearted can be aroused. Every person has a flame of love and compassion within them. But with some that flame is a love of self, driven by ego and channeled inwards rather than towards others. The result is selfishness and care for one self, with insensitivity to others. The fire burns, but it is hidden inside the ice.

All that needs to happen is for the ice to melt, and the fire of love and compassion will be visible to all. To achieve this, the “hail” individual needs to do two things:

a) Chip away at his/her ego by developing a sense of humility.

b) Begin to do acts of kindness and love even in the absence of motivation. The deeds themselves will ignite the fire.

The flame always burns. It is up to the individual whether it will be hidden by hail or burn openly.


One Response to “Fire and Ice – Your weekly message from Rabbi Michoel Gourarie”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    What I’m thinking:
    The two things suggested to undertake breaking down of the ice in today’s society can place one who aspirers spiritual advancement in a very vulnerable position so I’ve seen many times.
    a. chipping away at ones ego perporting to develop humilty.
    b. acts of “kindness” and love (which is a decision) igniting fire which flame always burns, leaving the aspirant the choice to leave it hidden or burn openly.
    Individuals need the wisdom of Solomon and much prayer to find a spiritual director worthy of the task in today’s world, regardless of their religious persuasion.
    Fortunate indeed are those who have one.

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