We keep hearing about tolerance. Be accepting of other people, of differences. Diverse cultures need to find ways of coexisting on a planet that keeps getting smaller. But there are times when too much tolerance can be detrimental. Like when the Jews were slaves in Egypt.

And I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt is the promise the Almighty told Moses to pass on to the Jewish people in this week's Parshah. One of my holy ancestors, Rabbi Yitzchak Meir of Gur (widely known by his work Chiddushei HaRim), once re-interpreted the Hebrew word for "burdens" - sivlos - to mean patience (as in savlanut in modern Israeli Hebrew today).

What he meant was that before the Children of Israel could be freed from Pharaoh, G‑d had to first free them of their own inner bondage. Years of slavery and drudgery had left the Israelites so oppressed and so hopeless that they had sunk into a terrible tolerance, accepting their situation as final and unalterable. Freedom was unimaginable to them.

Some of us are too tolerant of intolerable situations and so long-suffering that we ourselves become insufferable. Before G‑d can take us out of our personal "Egypts" we need to banish the slave mentality from our own headspace.

Some years ago I was doing marriage counseling for a couple who were experiencing domestic troubles. During one of our sessions, the wife confided that she would never suspect her husband of being unfaithful. When I asked her why, she said "he's too lazy, listless and lethargic. He would never have the energy to even attempt an affair. He has no ambition. He never gets angry no matter what I do. I can scream and shout, abuse him, send him to the dog house and he never says 'Boo!' I can feed him bread and jam for dinner every night and he will never complain."

It pains me when I see many Jewish organizations in our community lowering the bar of and accepting inferior standards on so many levels. We seem to be plagued by a morass of mediocrity. We should always strive for excellence and insist on the highest standards — whether at work or in the synagogue. Patience and tolerance are virtues, but we have become too tolerant.

In order to become truly free we must first remove the shackles of servitude from our own mentality. We must stop being so patient and accepting of all that is oppressive in our lives - whether it be slavery, exile, discrimination, anti-Semitism or mediocrity in general. We can become masters of our own destiny if we want to. But the first step on the road to our own personal exodus is to lower our threshold for tolerance and break out of the prison of patience.