Rav Ofer Erez (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) – The secret of Sarah and Hagar – The Shchinah and the Ba’al Teshuva

Rav Ofer Erez video for week of 10 Tevet, 5777

B”h we will begin uploading short video clips from Rav Ofer Erez with English subtitles.

“It’s written that Sarah said to Avraham Avinu, “Take Hagar and I will be built up through her.” She was ten years without children, she didn’t give birth. She said, “Avraham is unfortunate, he has no offspring.” Really, she had deep intentions in this. So Avraham married Hagar, he really married her, performed kiddushin (legal marriage) in some way, and after some time she became pregnant. What’s written after she became pregnant? “Her mistress became light [contemptible] in her eyes.” Hagar immediately said to Sarah, “How many years are you married to him? You’re already ten years in Israel. How many decades in the exile are you married? You’re already married forty or fifty years, and you didn’t become pregnant. You didn’t even have one pregnancy. See…I’m married to him a few weeks and I’m already pregnant.” And “her mistress become light in her eyes.” She started to make light of her. Sarah Emenu, you need to realize, is the highest holiness, but Sarah is harsh din (judgment), a sharp knife. She comes to Avraham Avinu and says to him, “Avraham, my disgrace is all your fault if you don’t divorce her. I don’t want to see her. I gave her to you and she now starts to make light of me, divorce her!” What’s divorcing her? To divorce her is to throw her to the desert. They lived in Beer Sheva. Where will she go? To the desert. Who will take care of her? Sarah says, “I don’t care who will take care of her; she doesn’t remain here.” It’s written in the Midrash…They didn’t believe me that there’s such a Midrash, but if it’s not written in the Midrash I couldn’t say it. So I only say what’s written in the Midrash…Avraham Avinu…he gave in to Sarah. There was great domestic tranquility between Avraham and Sarah. But what is this just to throw her out? She’s pregnant. Just throw her right out? Sarah saw that he had some doubt. You know what she did?…What is this that “my disgrace is upon you”? The Midrash says that she scratched him in the face, started to beat him. She said, “If she stays here for another minute or another hour, you won’t believe it. I’ll start to beat you.” It’s written in the Midrash that she started to beat him, she started scratching him in the face. Sarah is harsh judgment. Avraham Avinu said to her “Fine, fine, Sarah! Everything is fine! So she’ll go. Throw her out!” She threw her out into the desert. Really, if it weren’t for miracles from Hashem, she would have died in the desert. An angel revealed himself to her and said to Hagar, “From where did you come?” He initiated a conversation with her, so that he could talk to her. She tells her entire story to the angel. What does the angel say to her? “Return to your mistress and submit yourself to her.” He says to return to Sarah and submit yourself to her. I’ll tell you the interpretation of this according to the Holy Zohar. Sarah, Rabbeinu says, is the secret of the Shekhinah (Divine Presence). The Shekhinah gathers the souls of Israel, the souls of the distant. Hagar is the aspect of a holy soul, but distant [from Hashem]. What does the Shekhinah do? It brings the person who is distant…to the tzaddik, to Avraham Avinu. The Shekhinah acts so that the baaley teshuva (penitents)…the distant people, can come to the true tzaddik. So Hagar got close to the tzaddik. She just started to get close to the tzaddik, and immediately he started to illuminate into her [spiritual] light. That’s the secret meaning of her becoming “pregnant.” The intention is that he started to illuminate into her spiritual lights. She started to grow. She started to receive divine awareness, to receive light, intellects. Immediately, “her mistress became light in her eyes.” What is “her mistress became light in her eyes.” A person who straight away gets close to holiness starts to cheapen, as it were, the Shekhinah itself. Why is this? All pride is a cheapening of Hashem. What is pride? A person basically, in his inner self, says to Hashem, “I’m successful here. It’s not You who is successful here; it’s me who’s successful here.” That’s what is called “her mistress became light in her eyes.” The Shekhinah says to the tzaddik, “I brought this soul so that you should bring it to repentance, to rectify it, to bring it to its good. Throw it to the desert. I don’t want to see that soul.” The Shekhinah cries out, “Throw it out!” The tzaddik is obligated to do what the Shekhinah says to him; he threw it out to the desert. It goes in exile in the desert. That is the aspect…that now they throw a person away from all the holiness. It says, “Go away!” Because of its trait of pride, it says, “Go away!” When a person goes…he already had some three or four months of lights, of holiness. He didn’t pay attention; some pride got inside of him. Right away, the Shekhinah says to the tzaddik, “Throw her out to the desert.” What is this, “To throw it out”? Suddenly…a person goes to sleep, everything is good, everything is fine, with inspiration. Already for four months he prays at dawn. [When] he gets up in the morning, he gets up in the desert. He gets up in the morning, he doesn’t know what is holiness, he has no desire to do anything, everything is darkness by him, he’s in the middle of the desert. Then he says, “I don’t know what to do.” They threw him into the desert. He doesn’t know what to do. Then the Holy One reveals to him an angel. The angel says to him, “Accept upon yourself all the suffering that the Shekhinah oppresses you with, because it’s all for your benefit.” Then Hagar returns to Sarah, now she submits. Therefore, every expulsion is only to [teach] submission. Only so that I should submit to Sarah, to the Shekhinah, to the secret of the Shekhinah. So, this is all that we go through. When we act ok, when we have a bit of humility, the Shekhinah herself takes us to the tzaddik, to Avraham Avinu…he gives us lights, life-force, holiness, Torah. When we receive this and then begin to have pride, the Shekhinah goes to the tzaddik and says, “I brought this soul [to you]; throw it to the desert!” When they throw us into the desert, we are confounded, terrified. Suddenly…an angel comes and says to us, “Return and submit yourself to the Shekhinah. Accept upon yourself the suffering of a repentant because that is your tikkun (rectification).””

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