18 Jan Morning Blessings-Vaeira-Bad Neighbors
“Keep far away from a bad neighbor (Avot 1:7).” Nowadays, in the time of exile, attaining the Holy Spirit is easier than it was when the Temple still existed. This may be compared to a king who is much more difficult to approach in his royal palace fan on the road. When he is abroad, anyone who wishes may draw near to him. Even a villager who was unfit to visit the King in his palace may approach and speak with him in and inn. Similarly today, in exile, when you concentrate on Attachment with God, His Presence immediately rests upon you and dwells with you.
Therefore keep yourself far away from passions and alien thoughts, so that you are not separated from God, and do everything only for the sake of His Name.
That is what is meant by the passage: “Keep all that is bad far away from the One Who dwells with you as a neighbor.” (Maggid Devarav L’Yaakov #49)
When the plagues began to affect the Egyptians and not the Children of Israel, a deeper separation than that which existed between master and slave, began to appear. The Children of Israel understood that it was dangerous to be near the Egyptians. That distance allowed them to begin to connect to God in a way that had heretofore been impossible.
“May it be Your will, God, my Lord, and the Lord of my forefathers, that You rescue me today and every day from… And evil neighbor.” We are not only praying for physical protection from a bad neighbor, but praying for God to help us maintain the necessary distance from evil influences so that we may strengthen our Attachment to Him.