107. וְאַבְרָהָם כֵּיוָן שֶׁיָּדַע וְנִכְנַס בָּאֱמוּנָה הַשְּׁלֵמָה, רָצָה לָדַעַת כָּל אוֹתָן הַדְּרָגוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֶחְזוּ לְמַטָּה. וּמִצְרַיִם הָיָה נוֹסֵעַ מִיָּמִין [ד”א לְיָמִין], וּמִשּׁוּם כָּךְ יָרַד לְמִצְרַיִם. וּבֹא וּרְאֵה, הָרָעָב לֹא נִמְצָא בָאָרֶץ אֶלָּא כַּאֲשֶׁר מִסְתַּלְּקִים רַחֲמִים מִן הַדִּין.
108. וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבֹא מִצְרָיְמָה. אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר, כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב? כַּאֲשֶׁר קָרַב הָיָה צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת! מַה זֶּה כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב? אֶלָּא כַּכָּתוּב (שמות יד) וּפַרְעֹה הִקְרִיב, שֶׁהוּא קֵרַב אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל לִתְשׁוּבָה. אַף כָּאן הִקְרִיב, שֶׁהִקְרִיב אֶת עַצְמוֹ לַקָּדוֹשׁ-בָּרוּךְ-הוּא כָּרָאוּי. לָבֹא מִצְרָיְמָה, לְהִתְבּוֹנֵן בְּאוֹתָן הַדְּרָגוֹת וּלְהִתְרַחֵק מֵהֶן וּלְהִתְרַחֵק מִמַּעֲשֵׂי מִצְרַיִם.
Zohar Lech Lecha
And Abram went down to Egypt to live there. What was the point of going to Egypt? because it was considered as the Garden of God, which is written (Genesis 13:10) “as the Garden of God in the land of Egypt”. It is called so, for a river that descends from the Right to Egypt. It is written (Genesis 2:11)
“שֵׁם הָאֶחָד פִּישׁוֹן הוּא הַסֹּבֵב אֵת כָּל אֶרֶץ הַחֲוִילָה אֲשֶׁר שָׁם הַזָּהָב.”
“The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.”
From the rivers that come out from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:10), the river Pishon is the biggest of all, and it falls in the land of Egypt.
And Abraham, coming in complete faith, wanted to know all those levels which were held in Malchut of Zeir Anpin that is called ‘faith’. And Egypt was drawing from the right of Chokmah with the aspect of the Pishon River. For that reason, Abraham went down to Egypt to elevate the sparks of Light from Chokmah.
Rabbi Ashlag explains that because of the sin of Adam, sparks from the right of Chokmah fell to the land of Egypt. Abraham could expand his vessel and wisdom by collecting these sparks of Light.
After Abraham returned to the Land of Israel, Egypt experienced famine because they lost the support of the Light from the Right of Chokmah.
“וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת מַרְאֶה אָתְּ.”
“And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance.”
The word “הִקְרִיב” translated as “he was close” to make sense for the non-Hebrew reader, but this word actually means ‘he drew closer’.
Rabbi Elazar said It should be the word ‘קָרַב’ ‘came closer’. What does it mean here?, and he answers by quoting the verse from Exodus 14:10 that uses the same word ‘הִקְרִיב’.
“וּפַרְעֹה הִקְרִיב וַיִּשְׂאוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת עֵינֵיהֶם וְהִנֵּה מִצְרַיִם נֹסֵעַ אַחֲרֵיהֶם וַיִּירְאוּ מְאֹד וַיִּצְעֲקוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל יְהוָה.”
“And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to YHVH.”
Pharaoh caused the Israelites to come closer to repentance. Abraham brought himself closer to the Holy One Blessed be He. He observed the impure levels in Egypt to stay away from them and from their deeds.