This will be a short letter. The reason is that the time I usually write was spent in bed nursing a cold with the usual admixture of tea, ginger and acomol.
When I got up, the only part of the parshah that I wanted to share wtih you was the part about the plagues. The reason is that the first step to learning the truth is taking notice of how much of what you think of is true is patently not true.
The Egyptian concept of reality (which they later spread to the Greeks who popularized it) surprisingly includes recognition of a higher force. Their vision of G-d is as a deity that is beyond the pettiness and limitations of our world. Can such an exalted being possibly care if you order pizza with or without mushrooms? Is he interested in your distracted moments of attempted prayer? To them, the negative is the only possible answer; anything else would diminish G-d's glory and unknownable splendor.
They served a huge panthenon of natural forces that they thought of as sort of spiritual middle men. When the plagues came, things changed. They demonstrated that He is there, real, and concerned about things that we may see as petty. If an Egyptian grabbed a flask of water out of a Jew's hand during the first plague, he couldn't drink it. He would discover that it had changed back to blood. This wasn't just a matter of a clear liquid turning red; blood is protein and water is mineral. This means that the chemical composition of the liquid changed completely. If the Jew willingly sold it to him, it would remain water. Let's say that the amount of money involved was five shekels. That means that the Master of the Universe is willing to turn nature upside down over five shekels. That means that He is both above the world and in it. It means that he knows your limitations and still hears your prayers. It means that he cares about what you do, what you eat, what you feel. This means that you have to redefine "possible" and "impossible". Everything is possible. This means that you have to also redefine "important" and "unimportant".In the ultimate sense, everything is important. This can be transformational.
Most of us don't go for ancient philosophy, and may not know much about ancient Egypt and it's relationship to Plato or his theory of the Supreme Intellect. What you may be plagued with (pardon the pun) is subconscious worship of nature. Whether it's political reality, or medical prognosis, you can find yourself saying, "look, facts are facts. It's not constructive to escape into wishful thinking". If you reflect on the plagues, you may find yourself living with an entirely different formula. "Facts are facts, but the door is never closed. this is what it looks like, but no one knows what Hashem's plan really is."
One of the soul powers that are the deepest aspect of your personaltiy is called Netzach, which means "prevailing". It means that you have a part of you that knows that there is a plan and that in the end, good will remain, and evil will fall away. In the world as it is now, the good guys don't always win (WHAT?). Netzach the part of you that knows that in the ultimate sense, Hashem's will prevails. The laws of nature are a backdrop to challenging us to find Hashem wherever He chooses to let Himself be known.
Do you face seemingly "impossible" situations now and again? When you do, remember that your reality is not unlike the way life was for the Jews in Egypt the day before the plagues began. The enslavement seemed endless. The new Pharaoh wasn't any better than old one.No one ever succeeded in breaking out of the Egyptian hegemoney and its crushing hierarchy. If you were "realistic", you would accept life on those terms.
Then G-d created a new definition of realistic.
It means seeing the open door
The rainbow in a sky which will not
It means knowing that today and tomorrow
and the battles are endless when you
But there's tomorrow, and new game with new rules
and anything can happen, and as you walk the shaky bridge