I know that size is relative, but when we moved into our apartment three years ago, it felt pretty small. Our children’s bedroom has a triple bunk bed and a crib. There’s almost no room on the floor for them to sit, let alone play. When we are sitting in our living room/dining room/kitchen/family room, we can glide from couch to table to sink practically without having to get up. When I try to cook, it feels like myIt’s easy to feel trapped children are on top of me. I’m sure that when they try to play, it feels to them like I’m on top of them. They build towers, and I accidently bump into them and knock them down. You get the picture: It feels like a cramped space.

In cramped spaces, it’s easy to feel trapped, and to start to feel low and depressed. In our small apartment, I kept bumping into my kids (whom I am so grateful to have); I kept bumping into my furniture (which I am so grateful to have); and I could feel frustration bubbling up inside. It was not a good feeling.

One day, I took a look at our multi-purpose room, and I started to move things around. Our table and couch were always parallel to each other. Maybe the space would work better if they were perpendicular? I got my daughter to help, and we turned the couch sideways and pushed it to a different wall. We pushed my table to the other side, under the window, and all of a sudden, within 15 short minutes, our cramped space became so much more spacious! There was actually room to play—room to breathe! When my husband came home, I excitedly showed him the change and told him, “Look! Thank G‑d, we have a mansion!”

Clearly, we don’t really have a mansion. Everything is the same—the amount of space, the items in the room—but with some rearranging, all of a sudden, nothing is the same. All of a sudden, where I once felt confined and closed in, I now feel free and uninhibited. In a mere 15 minutes, after three-and-a-half years of feeling like I was living in a tiny space, G‑d helped me to change my reality without actually changing it.

I had a client come to me the other day. She’s divorced and very much wants to remarry. She looked worn out and had terrible headache. She’s a third-grade teacher. She poured her heart out to me and told me how she feels that all the other teachers in the school where she works are moving on. The single ones get married and leave; the married ones become pregnant and leave. She’s stuck, feels suffocated, and stays.

I told her the above story about my multi-purpose room. Sometimes, I told her, we need to make space and rearrange the “furniture” in our own heads. Could she try to see her situation differently? She’s a wonderful teacher whom the girls love because of her experience, and whom the principal relies on because of her dependability and stability. Could she see her situation not as “stuck,” but as choosing to grow and improve within the very same job that she already has?

You might not be able to change a situation. Sometimes, you have to work hard, and you are tired. That is your reality. Sometimes, you have a job that is difficult, but it’s your responsibility to carry on with it. Sometimes, you face a particular challenge as a person who is single, or without children, or without a job. These situations might be your current reality, but with your thoughts and feelings, you also create a reality. Sometimes, we cannot change our space, but we can “rearrange the furniture” within that space.

The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, from the root word meitzar, which means “constriction” or “distress.” What exactly happened when we were enslaved in Egypt? The Egyptians made Jews do physically back-breaking, crushing labor. The sages of the Midrash describe how they also forced men to do the work of women and women to do the work of men. And they made Israel work just to work. Things would be built andWhat exactly happened when we were enslaved in Egypt? knocked down. They wanted not only to crush the Israelites’ bodies, but also their spirits. They confined and restricted us so much that we almost descended to a spiritual point of no return. But at that moment, G‑d Himself came and took us out of Egypt. He took us out of slavery and into freedom. But what was that freedom?

Freedom means being able to appreciate your spiritual value as a Jew, as part of the nation of G‑d. Freedom means that you fully understand that you have a purpose, and that everything happens for a reason. It is doing things that are meaningful, for a higher goal. Freedom means that even if you can’t change your reality, even if, G‑d forbid, you are in a prison in Siberia or confined to a hospital bed, even if the physical reality won’t change at this moment (though, with G‑d’s help, anything can change at any moment), you can rearrange your thoughts and change the reality in your head. When G‑d took us out of Egypt, He gave us the gift of freedom, of being able to always “rearrange the furniture.”

I have to tell you, it’s not easy to clean and get ready for Passover. I love it, I really do. But it’s not easy. By the time I arrive at the seder table, I’m really tired. I work so hard, and I do feel satisfaction, but also exhaustion. I sit down, and we start our seder, and a transformation occurs, where all of a sudden, I’m not me, but a daughter of the King. I’m royalty. Same home, same people, same table and chairs (but sparkling clean), same reality; but as we get into the story of the Exodus, as we sing and drink wine and eat matzah, as I look at my children, and I catch a glimpse of my tired but glowing face in the mirror, I feel so grateful for being able to make it to this night. The hard work was totally worth it. It was for a holy purpose, and it got me to this point. My thoughts have been rearranged in my head. I feel so elevated, so open, so free.