Taking the Jews out of Egypt was the easy part for G‑d; He’s in the miracle business. Taking Egypt out of the Jews, now that’s hard.

And Egypt was very into the Jews. The pharaohs had enticing culture and entertainment (abomination in both sleazy and non-sleazy flavors); the Jews desperately wanted to shed immigrant status and blend in. They pretty much did.Taking the Jews out of Egypt was the easy part for G‑d; He’s in the miracle business.

One of the most adored of the Egyptians’ adorations was . . . the sheep. (No, I don’t know why.) It was the precursor of—oh, I don’t know, the television? Now imagine coming home one day, taking the beloved idiot box and throwing it out the window! Now picture doing that when you work for the networks, and your boss came over to watch the news with you. We call it chutzpah.

That’s why the Jews had to slaughter the sheep for Passover. Hours later, they were ready to leave Egypt behind, a deflated, emasculated shell of a has-been. The chutzpah they kept. The gall to define reality and live by what is right: not comfortable, logical, nor even possible, but what is right.

The Jews who survived Europe seventy years ago and started having families at an unprecedented rate demonstrated an awesome, enviable, breathtaking chutzpah. The Jews in America who were bombarded with “The Disappearing Jew” series that every magazine was mouthing, but nevertheless opened day schools and Chabad centers, were totally ignoring reality and doing their own thing. Their own thing.

The gall to define reality and live by what is right: not comfortable, logical, nor even possible, but what is right. The Jews (0.0005 percent of the population) are not defined by their surroundings and challenges (the Hebrew word for that is meitzarim—the same letters as the Hebrew word for Egypt). The Jews are defined by whatever G‑d wants them to define themselves. (Mitzvahs are often called “signs” or definitions.)

So yes, the next time you read some cutting-edge report about the demise of Israel, or see a documentary or news feature you think is slanted negatively, don’t get annoyed. Think chutzpah (it’s also good for the blood pressure). It’s not our reality. Turn it off. Feel free to throw it out. Then wonder how you could have possibly lived with that thing for so long. And know how it feels to leave Egypt behind.