The Talmud teaches, "In every generation, one must see himself as if he went out
The word in Hebrew for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which can also be translated as
personal limitations. Externally applied limitations, self-imposed limitations, real limitations,
imagined limitations, minor limitations, debilitating limitations -- the
archetype of all of these being our former existence as peoples enslaved by
Pharaoh in Egypt several thousand years ago.
Whether we're aware of them our not, each of us has our own set of limitations
that at times cause us to make wrong choices, or at times simply prevent us from
fulfilling a greater potential. Passover is the time when our actual performance
of the many prescribed holiday rituals endows us with a spiritual "freedom"
which in turn opens the door of opportunity in all facets of our life to rise
above our personal limitations. Passover recalls freedom from Egypt. Doing the
Passover rituals brings freedom from the modern day affliction of our own
Its seems, however, that before one can "...see himself as if he went out of
Egypt (as if he's overcome his limitations)," as the Talmud states, he must
first perceive that he is, in fact, in Egypt. If it sounds simple, think:
many of us, before recovery, considered the fact that we were powerless over our
addiction, but found some way to rationalize it? How many times were
we confronted with the consequences of our actions, but denied we needed help?
How many of us insisted we could handle things on our own, that we could control our
problem? The rock-bottom induced realization of our utterly limited nature
became our first taste of sanity. Recognizing our condition -- admitting our
powerlessness -- was a revolutionary adjustment of perspective that, for the
first time, created a real ability to free ourselves. Our first true step into
recovery became our first real step out of Egypt.
As such, it's apparent that the key to "going out of Egypt" lies in the very recognition of
one's nature of being, actually, in Egypt. Translate the Talmudic injunction to read, "In
every generation, one must see
himself," period. And when he does, it will be "as if he went out of Egypt."
In other words, it's as if the Talmud is telling us that to go out of Egypt,
today, we must be willing and able to do something that might be excruciatingly
painful, perhaps near impossible: Take an honest look at who and what we truly
In doing so, we reveal the truth about our slavery: That we are our own
taskmasters. Our sense of power and control -- the whip we wield -- is not a
tool to success, but in fact, makes life unmanageable. The more powerful we try
to be, the more we enslave ourselves. All
we need to do to leave Egypt is put down the whip. Surrender. Surrender to
the reality of our essential limitations and imperfections. Surrender to the
terrifying totality of our lack of control. Surrender to the bare naked truth of
who and what we are. Surrender, and recognize that in wielding our whip, it is
none other than our self, enslaved before us, we threaten. On
Passover, the way to become free people is by perceiving and admitting our
condition as slaves.
The Talmud tells us, "In every generation, a man is
obligated to see himself." In that moment of rigorous honesty, when the illusion
of ourselves as master gives way to our powerless existence as slave, we will be