Think Different


Exile & Redemption in Light of Today’s Events

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 mitzrayim.

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 of apathy.

When an opportunity comes your way, grab it. Because once the moment passes and life returns ‘to normal,’ you will surely forget.

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.

Today’s upheavals — in the form of rising public acts of antisemitism — is another such crack.  One could have detected signs of things to come before the recent wave of events — in Pittsburgh, Poway, Jersey City and most recently in Monsey, NY.  Indeed, there were the rare visionaries that foresaw the unfolding events. But it is now becoming obvious to the masses.

But cracks are strange creatures. Though they open up new possibilities and allow in new light, by their very nature cracks demoralize and frighten us. After all, who wants to leave the comfortable embrace of the womb? Cracks shake up our comfort zones, exposing our vulnerability and fragility. Thus, when we have been spoiled long enough and are so attached to old paradigms, even the turbulence of our times, which has unfortunately become a “norm,” don’t change us so quickly. 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 the past. We always gravitate back to our ‘natural’ states, and resist change.

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 to? Am I willing to consider that a new paradigm, a new world is possible?”

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.


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8 years ago

As usual…you are spot on! The question about reactivity is challenging when one has a loved one who is suffering from an illness. Can one really step back and change the way we react by not suffering along with the loved one. While healthy emotionally and physically, will it not cause detachment from your loved one? If so, is that good or bad?

The Meaningful Life Center