Expansive versus Narrow
On Leading From Above the Line
That pesky Pharoah is back again this week as we restart the book of Exodus. The new leader of Egypt is not familiar with the Israelite tribe and is worried about their growth potential. So he attempts to outsmart them or in the words of the Torah, הָ֥בָה נִֽתְחַכְּמָ֖ה ל֑וֹ.
If you take the three lead letters of the phrase, הָ֥בָה נִֽתְחַכְּמָ֖ה ל֑וֹ, Pharoah's call to outsmart the Israelites in this week's portion, it breaks down to הָ֥, נִֽ ל֑, whose numerologicalvalue=85. Interestingly, the numerological value of one of God’s names, Elohim, is 86.
Coincidence? It could be. In the eyes of the Be’er Mayim Chayim (BMC), a Chasidic Rabbi named Chayim of Tchernovitz, it is most certainly not. In his eyes, Pharoah was being deliberate here. In his explanation of what’s lurking beneath the surface here, the BMC focuses on two mystical concepts called “mohin de’katnut” and “mohin de’gadlut.”
The former is constricted consciousness. Think of making decisions when you’re at your most reactive, getting caught up in the little things, and being mired in the negative. The latter is expanded consciousness. You’re thinking big picture and you’re more proactive.
According to The BMC, Pharoah was trying to emotionally subjugate the Israelites to a level where they existed in a state of such narrow consciousness that they would be surrounded by sadness. In this mindset, every act feels exerting and laborious. In his words, the goal was to prevent them from connecting with God.
"for God's presence does not dwell in such a state."
For the Pharoah, when they were in this mindset, they couldn’t access the divine. The BMC’s solution to this attempt was that the Israelites, with God’s help through the plagues, discovering their agency, and fighting back against the Egyptians, moved into a state of expanded consciousness, seeing the big picture, and not getting overly reactive. That is how they broke free.
This creative read has relevance for so many situations. In the world of conscious leadership, thought leaders discuss the notion of trying to operate from above the line as opposed to below the line. Above the line leaders are wide-eyed, curious, and committed to learning. Below the line leaders are closed off, defensive, and overly focused on being right.
Think about this for your own personal journey in life too. How often do you find yourself in the narrow mindset of being reactive and dead set on being right? Me? Often! How much more fresh and healthy would I feel if I operated more “above the line? I could learn more, grow more, and connect more.
I think for all of us, this is more a practice or stage to cultivate than a forever mindset. The world is too messy and complicated for us to always exist as “above the line” people, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to work at it. Remember from the original text. The difference in the verse is one value point: 86>85. The Pharaoh mindset, narrow mindedness is always beaten by the Godly mindset of expanded consciousness.
All it takes is one moment to build on. See the divinity in one act. Start with one thing to move yourself. Then, another. Move yourself from the narrow into the expanse.
Shabbat Shalom-Happy Weekend-Merry Christmas to those celebrating!
Click that hyperlink for a basic understanding of numerology in the Jewish tradition
Shout out to Sam Adiv for putting me on to this area of research. Check out his awesome work here: