Mas'ei, Pokémon Go, and Mashiah
The Or Hahayim on this week's parasha describes the purpose of the Jewish people traveling in the desert in the 42 travels and encampments and the Torah mentioning them. He explains that the Jewish people needed to extract and release the sparks of holiness from the Kelipa that the Sitra Ahara placed in the desert, which is his home base. In the home base of the S"A, we needed 600,000 souls to make this journey and release these holy sparks. However, in more settled areas, even some special individuals have the ability to release these sparks.
And indeed, Rav D. Raccah Shlit"a explains, prayers and mitzvot performed in way-out places by these individuals have the ability to release holy sparks from these places. In areas that are more populated by Jews, it takes longer to release these sparks. That is why there were areas that were once populated by Jews that are no longer so - all the sparks have been extracted and no more work is needed in those areas. On the other hand, in those places where there are still Jews in exile, more work is still needed. This is also why the Jews in the desert stayed in some encampments for longer than others - there was more work to be done there.
The question is: how do we, in 5776, relate to such a concept? Most of us nowadays are not aware of the Kabbalistic concept of extracting holy sparks from areas.
Well, HKB"H made it happen that in the past month, there was a hishtalshelut (a manifestation of the spiritual world in the physical world) of this concept in an enormous way. The Pokémon Go app has taken the world by storm. How does the game work? As Wikipedia explains:
After establishing a game account, the player creates an avatar by selecting a hair, skin, and eye color; style; and outfit. Once created, the avatar is displayed on a map using the player's current geographical location. Features on the map include PokéStops and Pokémon gyms. PokéStops provide players with items, such as eggs, Poké Balls, and potions and can be equipped with items called lure modules, which attract wild Pokémon.I will say that I never played the game, but it seems I'm in the minority:
Pokémon Go rapidly topped the American iOS App Store's "Top Grossing" and "Free" charts. The game has become the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play, beating Clash Royale, and it became the most downloaded app on the App Store of any app in their first week. Within two days of release, it was installed on more than 5% of Android devices in the United States, according to SimilarWeb, According to SensorTower, the game was downloaded more than 10 million times within a week of release, becoming the fastest such app to do so, and reached 15 million global downloads by July 13. According toSurveyMonkey the game became the most active mobile game in the United States ever with 21 million active users on July 12, eclipsing Candy Crush Saga's peak of 20 million. By July 15, approximately 1.3 million people were playing the game in the Netherlands, despite the app not being officially released in the country. On the day of release in Japan, more than 10 million people downloaded the game, including 1.3 million in the first three hours. By July 31, the game exceeded 100 million downloads worldwide, according to App Annie and SensorTower.A great number of people around the world are picking up Pokémon from various locations on the map. Of course, they are not doing anything spiritual, but I see a physical resemblance to the spiritual act of releasing holy sparks from all over different areas around the world. Just like Pokémon are being collected, holy spiritual acts can help collect the sparks. And it helps us imagine the basic understanding of that spiritual concept in a way that can be understood by the masses of Jews.
And we know that only after all these sparks are released from the Kelipa and light is separated from darkness can we experience true Redemption. As we know, אין בן דוד בא אלא עד שיכלו כל הנשמות שבגוף - Mashiah will not come until all the souls in the "Guf" are finished being rectified - which means that all the sparks are released from the Kelipa.
So, no, I don't recommend anyone start playing Pokémon Go, but the great popularity of the game could be HKB"H's way of telling us what we need to be doing right now - prayer, repentance, and mitzvot all around the world that help release these sparks from the Kelipa. And if we play our cards right, we can get the biggest prize of all.