SIPUR YETZIYAS MITZRAYIM - SPEAKING IT OUT

Teshuva Mahavah wrote: "One of the things I find helps me the most, is to talk about it face to face with somebody (in my case, my mashgiach) and - surprise! - he won't throw you out on the spot. Trust me!"

by Dov (See all authors)

Dov, who is clean in SA since 1997 (see his story here), replies:

Gorgeous! At the Seder, we say, "afilu kulonu chachomin/nevonim/know the Torah and the whole story - mitzvah aleinu l'saper" - 'sipur' means to tell someone else a thing we already know. First, it is to the child on his or her level. If no child, then to another adult on their level. If no adult, then to ourselves. Only if there is no one else to tell it, do we say it to ourselves - but we gotta say it out loud, in any case. Say it to ourselves? That means speak it out, not read it - even though no other person is in the room! What good is talking to ourselves gonna do us?!

Rav Moshe Cordovero zt"l writes that Hashem reminds us 50 times in His Torah that He took us out of Mitzrayim. Why so many? Why davka 50?

We all know that Avraham said "bamoh eidah ki irashena?" and that through these words, Hashem decreed we would go to Mitzrayim. What's the connection between Avraham's neediness for Da'as and golus Mitzrayim?

Well, I'll let you put it together a bit, but will say this much: 50 is the number of levels there are to Binah. Binah, of course, is the shoresh and forerunner of Da'as. The Arizal (actually, the Zohar) tells us that Da'as (awareness) was in Golus in Mitzrayim, as was Dibur. "Da'as in golus" means that there really is no Da'as - for golus is disconnectness (nidah is the bechinah of golus), and Da'as itself is the state of being connected (as true awareness of anything means that it is part of you now, and in the way the Torah refers to sex as da'as of another person). Speech being in galus means that it is not connected to the heart - it's the state of not being able to truly express the heart with dibbur (see Peleh Yoe'itz of Tchernobyl).

So it seems that at the seder we celebrate the emancipation of speech from galus by using it to express what is in our hearts about the ge'ulah, itself. Quite a switch from the state we were way down in Egypt land!

And the Rebbes explain, "v'chol hamarbeh lesaper, harei zeh meshubach" as meaning that the more we speak out the story of the geulah (sipur is davka saying it), the more we improve - meshubach (as in wine that is 'meshubach' with aging).

We, who are struggling in recovery, can learn a few sweet things from this:

1-We need to work for Da'as: The fact that we already know all about all our porn use and sex with self or others, etc, is not nearly enough to achieve da'as. We need da'as more than anyone does, for we are chronic forgetters! Knowing is not enough for us. We often feel soooo connected, crying true holy tears through a davening one day - and still end up masturbating ourselves to porn again just a day or few hours later! We have knowledge in spades... but little or no da'as!

2-Sippur is where it's at: Speaking about something we already 'know all about' face to face with another real person is powerful. Far more powerful than knowing about it is. Rmb"n writes regarding Teshuvah: "Hashem says in the Torah that it is 'beficho ubilvov'cho la'asoso' - first it is beficho, then it can grow to be bilvov'cho." Meaning, first we start speaking the truth out at the Seder - then we discover that we are truly expressing something that is deep inside us! At the Seder, that truth is our identity as Jews - our Neshoma itself. In recovery, it is the truth about ourselves as addicts who need G-d - and recovery to keep Him. Which of those is more important to know? I'd certainly say the latter. Derech eretz kodmah laTorah is real.

In other words, we learn how to be honest and open with ourselves by first practicing being honest and open with others. Kind of counterintuitive... but it is the true experience of many addicts. It's the "na'aseh v'nishma" of recovery!

3- We are not doing the mitzvah of sippur Y"M properly by using any other media than by speaking face to face with another person - at their level - about the exact facts with all the details of galus and geulah. This teaches us that sipur - sharing the (sometimes bitter) truth about ourselves and our behavior - is fully effective only if it is face to face with another person who understands it correctly, hiding no detail from them (Rav Elimelech's exact words translated, not mine).

4- Finally, if we cannot share it with anyone else because we can't find anyone, we at least share the facts with ourselves. Later, we will open it up to another. Incidentally, I and many others have found that saying it out loud to ourselves is powerful, but first writing the facts down on paper helps us share it with ourselves more fully. NOT TYPING, but hand-writing it. In Unesaneh tokef, we say 'vechosem yad kol odom bo'- our lives are like our handwriting. There is something self-identifying and honest about writing with our own hand.

Hatzlocho!