What is Your Egypt?


One of the central ideas of Passover is that we are to see ourselves as having left Egypt. Some say that this means to visualize that we were actually slaves in Egypt, and were freed in the Exodus. It is meant to give us empathy with those who suffered at the hands of the Egyptians.

I think there is another way to make this a more personal experience. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzraiim, which means the narrow place, the place that blocks us. We need to think about what is our personal Mitzraiim, the thing that is holding us back from being the kind of person we want to be.

This requires being really honest with ourselves. We are often comfortable with our most destructive habits, whether anger and temper problems, eating issues, jealousy, or inattentiveness to others. What is important is to figure out what your particular thing is, and work on that. Passover is the six month alert that Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are coming. Now is the time to get to work.

The seder provides a powerful model on how to start the work. The very first seder actually took place during the Hebrew slaves last night in Egypt, not after their liberation. God wanted them to see themselves as already being free. To paraphrase George Clinton, “Free your mind and the rest will follow.”

We should spend a few minutes each day quietly visualizing ourselves as the kind of person we want to be. If we can see it, we can achieve it. Do not expect instant or even quick results. Our destructive habits took a long time to form; they will take a long time to conquer. Look for small changes. You will start noticing them soon and will start feeling better about yourself. Your friends and family will notice, too, and will likely find themselves looking for ways to improve their lives also.

What is your Egypt? You can start leaving it this year.

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