Mistake of the Mixed Multitude – Part1

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Kabbalah reveals the spiritual drama between soul-roots.

"And they said: 'This Israel is your G‑d who took you out of Egypt'." (Ex. 32:4)"They" is the 'Mixed Multitude,' which is why it says "your G‑d" and not "our G‑d." (see Rashi on verse)

the Mixed Multitude derive from the evil of Moses….

As we have explained elsewhere, the Mixed Multitude derive from the evil [aspect] of Moses. They issued prematurely and were not properly rectified [first], so they sinned.

When the Jews, led by Moses, left Egypt, Moses acceded to take along a "mixed multitude" of non-Jews with them. Although his intentions were good, these people had not been fully educated about the ways of Judaism and the path of the Torah, and so they made numerous errors in judgment throughout Israel's trek in the desert, often drawing the Jewish people into their errors as well.

Evil can be defined as consciousness not sufficiently oriented toward and focused on G‑d - or, worse, oriented away from or against G‑d. Just as with people, who must undergo a selfish period of childhood in order to develop their sense of self before emerging into the mature, adult world, so must any revelation of Divinity, or any soul, undergo a maturation process before it can descend into the world. Although the soul will mature again during its lifetime as it goes through childhood, etc., this is a second stage of development. Thus, to a certain extent, the character of the individual is already developed during its fetal life.

The Mixed Multitude thus reflected this idea of premature introduction into holiness. Insecure in their sense of self, they were not ready to abandon it in favor of the truth to which they were being elevated.

Moses, as a leader, should have known that this was the case. But his acceptance of the Mixed Multitude reflected a weakness on his part, an unwarranted tolerance and acceptance of that which is imperfect and unripe, erroneously allowing it to take part in mature, adult life before its time. (Perhaps this over-fascination with the raw, the untamed, and the immature echoes Isaac's fascination with and preference of Esau over Jacob, as well as modern society's worship and indulgence of youth at the expense of its reverence and appreciation of the wisdom of age.)

G‑d did not want to accept these unfit converts. [Had they not joined the Jewish people], there would have been no death or exile, as it is written, "[The tablets were the work of G‑d, and the writing was the writing of G‑d,] chiseled on the tablets." (Ex. 32:16)

When the Torah was first given, the spiritual impurity caused by the sin of the Tree of Knowledge was removed from the world. Thus, the Hebrew word for "chiseled", "charut", can be interpreted to mean "freedom" (in Hebrew, "cheirut"); the tablets freed the world from the sentence of death and its spiritual analog, exile. (Avot 6:2; Eiruvin 54a; Shemot Rabbah 32:1) The Mixed Multitude, however, perpetrated the sin of the Golden Calf, which reintroduced this impurity or self-orientation into the world.

But Moses accepted them, thinking that it would be good to absorb them into holiness.

This way, Moses reasoned, their unrefined power could be harnessed for holy purposes. Their desire to join the Jewish people seemed to indicate their readiness for this.

Aspects of his soul return as the leader of each generation in order to rectify the spiritual heirs of the Mixed Multitude….

[He] especially [wanted to accept them] because they were somewhat important to him, as it is written "the people in whose midst I am" (Num. 11:21), and "the people at your feet" (Ex. 11:8). Thus, he sought to rectify them. But on the contrary, they ruined Israel, as it written, "Go, descend, for your people who you brought up out of Egypt have corrupted..." (ibid. 32:7). It does not say "have been corrupted" but "have corrupted", meaning, "have corrupted others," i.e. Israel.

In this verse, the verb "corrupt" is transitive. Furthermore, G‑d tells Moses about his people, that he, not G‑d, brought up out of Egypt, referring to the Mixed Multitude.

Moses therefore had to die, in order to ascend on high and receive G‑d's beneficence. There is therefore no generation without [a leader like] Moses.

In order to right the wrong he caused, Moses' trans-generational job is to rectify the ongoing impurity of the Mixed Multitude, until it is fully matured. He therefore belongs spiritually to the pre-redemptive generation of the desert and could not pass over the Jordan river to lead the next generation in the conquest of the Land of Israel. Aspects of his soul return as the leader of each generation in order to rectify the spiritual heirs of the Mixed Multitude.

In order to do this, his soul, each time, has to accrue extra spiritual power, and this it does by staying in the womb of Imma for a longer than usual period, as the Arizal explains in Part 2.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."

Mistake of the Mixed Multitude - Part 2

Moses' return to the womb

From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria; translated and edited by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

This is a continuation from Part 1.

When he emerges the union of Abba and Imma, he remains impregnated in the womb of Imma for twelve months. This is alluded to (1) in the phrase "And G‑d became angry at me on your account" in that the word "became angry" can be read "made me [re-]enter the state of pregnancy", and (2) that the fact that the numerical value of the word for "at me" in this phrase is 12, and (3) that the initials of this phrase spell the word for "jubilee", which is an appellation of bina, as is known.

"At me", in Hebre

w is "bi", spelled beit-yud = 2 + 10 = 12.

"And G‑d became angry at me on your account" in Hebrew is "Vayitaber YHVH [Havayah] bi le-ma'anchem", whose initial letters are vav-yud-beit-lamed.

"Jubilee", in Hebrew "yovel", is spelled yud-vav-beit-lamed.

The jubilee is the fiftieth year, and there are fifty "gates" of bina.

When Moses was born the first time, however, he required [a pregnancy of] only seven months, because [his soul] did not require so much maturation.

When Moses was born, his mother Yocheved hid him for three months, after which she put him in a basket in the river. If she hid him from the Egyptian authorities successfully for three months, why did she not continue to hide him? Our sages answer that Moses was born in the seventh month, and the Egyptian authorities came to inspect her home only nine months after her remarriage to Amram, Moses' father (See Rashi on Exodus 2:3).

Bina includes the twelve signs of the zodiac….

The fact that he was born early means, according to our above discussion, that Moses' soul did not require the full gestation period of nine months in order to reach the level of maturity necessary for birth into this world, since it was a priori a superior soul.

Understand this, for bina includes the twelve signs of the zodiac. These are alluded to in the word bina itself, the first two letters of which [beit-yud] have the numerical value of 12. The numerical value of [the third letter of bina,] nun, is fifty, alluding to the fifty gates of bina, and the [last letter of bina,] hei, alludes to the five states of chesed or gevura that exist within bina.

Bina, the central sefira of the intellect, is the "mother" of the emotions, which emerge from its "womb". The six emotions from chesed to yesod define a three-dimensional space (two directions for each dimension), since emotion implies relationship with another, and this requires a "space" in which to occur. The three-dimensional cube is formed with 12 lines. These twelve lines are seen as the spiritual source of the twelve months of the year and their associated zodiacal signs.

The five states of chesed or gevura within bina are the precursors of the five principle sefirot of the emotions, chesed, gevura, tiferet, netzach, and hod. They are the latent propensities of intellectual analysis to produce emotional response to the subject being studied.

This the meaning of the words "[G‑d became angry with me] on your account." Moses was speaking to the Mixed Multitude [present at the assembly].

The verse thus reads mystically: "G‑d made me return to the fetal state because I decided to accept you."

Alternatively, we can say that he was speaking to the Jewish people, and the words "on your account" mean "in order to rectify you".

In this case, the verse reads: G‑d made me return to the fetal state and be reborn in order to rectify you."

chanoch's Commentary

In this section, did you read about any mistakes made by the Mixed Multitude? Then why is it titled “ The Mistake of the Mixed Multitude? The answer – the mistake is to take the mixed multitude at all. Hashem does not embarrass anyone. Learn this well.

Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Sefer HaLikutim; subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard."