Exile & Redemption in Light of Today's
The detailed story of the exile and exodus – the
enslavement and freedom – from Egypt tells the story of our
traps and our search for true freedom today.
Each of us has mitzrayim constraints in
our lives – our physical, psychological, emotional, intellectual
and spiritual inhibitions and blocks.
Real freedom can be achieved only when we transcend
our confines and limitations. Yet, the constraints themselves
are part of the freedom process: We cannot achieve freedom unless
we undergo the limitation experience. Therein lies the paradox:
To truly get out of mitzrayim you need to first be in
Thus the Talmud states: In each generation [and
each day] a person must see himself as if he left mitzrayim.
Each moment in time is filled with possibilities.
In each moment we have the power to create real change. Yet,
there are distinct moments in history when a window of opportunity
opens up – a crack that can catapult us to a new place. These
cracks are rare. And even when they open, they quickly close,
precipitated by the complacency that quickly returns. Change,
you will always find, is in direct disproportion to the reverie
When an opportunity comes your way, grab it. Because
once the moment passes and life returns ‘to normal,’ you will
The Egyptian exile was the first such crack. With
all its pain and misery, it strengthened the Israelites and
transformed them into a free people – free forever. When all
else fails, it is the struggle itself that forces you to connect
to your deepest strength, to the essence of your being and to
G-d. Mitzrayim is compared to a furnace in which gold is purified,
separating the pure gold from the dross. The Jews in Egypt elevated
and purified the negativity and darkness of Mitzrayim, and they
in turn were purified by the encounter. Once you have experienced
the furnace, you can never be truly hurt by it again.
September 11th is another such crack.
Yet, when we have been spoiled long enough and are so attached
to old paradigms, even an event like September 11 will probably
not change us. It only wakes us up, and even then many of us
are desperately hoping that the nightmare will end and we can
go back to September 10. We always gravitate back to our ‘natural’
The question we must ask ourselves, even as we
drift back to old but comfortable reference points, is: “What
exactly is normal anyway?” “Is it possible – even remotely –
possible – that I may be mistaken, that my life and all that
I believed is perhaps a Matrix, a pattern that I’ve gotten used?
Am I willing to consider that a new paradigm, a new world is
Are you willing to bet that new possibilities
are impossible? And if it happens to turn out that things do
really change – am I prepared?
People are always asking: “how can I change things
in my life?” “I am stuck in old patterns; every time I try to
change things, I end up back in the same old place.” “What will
it take to chart and maintain a new course?”
Well, my friends: Change requires change. Change
cannot be affected if you do not change things. If you think
what you thought, say what you said, do what you did, what will
you have? You will have what you had…
When we read about the challenge of mitzrayim
in a time when we are squeezed between a weakened confidence
in our former structures and an uncertain future, we must see
this as a unique opportunity to wake up: perhaps this is our
time to affect real change. Time to start thinking differently,
speaking differently, acting differently.
After all: if nothing changes, nothing changes.