All our exiles and redemptions, we are told, stem from the Egyptian exile and exodus, our first as a people. This includes—perhaps especially—the mystical "exile" of the soul from heaven to earth, where, enslaved to physical body, it cries out for spiritual release. For a Kabbalist, then, a study of the Torah's account of the Exodus provides priceless insight into the soul's deep need for freedom of divine expression.

Here's one idea, for example. The slave labor in Egypt was meant to be not only back-breaking but demoralizing: The Hebrews were forced to do utterly pointless jobs solely to break their spirits. For the soul, life in the physical world also seems full of pointless pursuits-—traffic tie-ups, trips to the supermarket, paying the bills, carpooling the kids, cleaning the yard and answering emails. These can be crushing preoccupations for the poor soul.

But the mystics know an old trick to turn the tables: rather than let the pointlessness break you, you break the pointlessness. Instead of being preoccupied over paying the bills, be preoccupied over a concept in spirituality. Take a kosher Kabbalah book or tape or a concept from a class and try to learn it. Think about it in line at the bank. Dream about it while shoveling snow. Talk about it while washing the dishes (and your spouse dries them).

In exile, something's got to "break." So break your head (that's Jewish for good solid thinking) over mystical ideas and free you spirit from the petty preoccupations—-it's the body's job to wait in line, not the soul's.