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Yetzias Mitzrayim

Understanding the core of the 12-Steps

GYE Corp. Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The more we understand the underlying message the 12-Steps represent, the more we can understand the underlying message of Yetzias Mitzrayim as well.

Those who work the 12-Steps into their lives, claim that they no longer have to fight the Yetzer Hara; Hashem does it for them. The question is, why would Hashem do such miracles for someone who - until today - was addicted to the lowest behaviors and had all but completely forgotten about Hashem?

I think the answer can be found in the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim.The Yidden in Egypt had reached the 49th level of impurity. They had cried out to Hashem in utter powerlessness, and Hashem had heard their cry. But they didn't have any merits of their own. As the Pasuk in Yecheskel (16:6) says: "Ve'at Erom ve'eraya - and you were naked and bare". So in what merit were they able to leave? As the Pasuk continues... "and I passed over you and I saw you wallowing in your blood, and I said to you, in your blood you shall live, and I said to you in your blood you shall live". The Targum Yonosan translates these two bloods as referring to the blood of the Pesach sacrifice and the blood of the Bris Milah that the yidden made before leaving Mitzrayim. So we see that the Yidden did indeed need some Zechusim before they were able to merit Yetziyas Mitzrayim. Let us try and understand what was unique about these two Mitzvos that enabled them to break free from the lowest levels.

Hashem told the Yidden to take a sheep and tie it to the bed post. The Beis Ahron of Karlin writes that the miracle was twofold. Firstly, because the sheep were worshiped by the Egyptians who saw their G-d being tied up as a sacrifice, and yet they didn't say anything. And the second miracle was "...that the Yidden themselves did such a thing and gave themselves over with complete Messiras Nefesh for the faith and honor of Hashem. And this could not have been done in any other way, only with Messiras Nefesh. Because from such a abominable and disgusting place (like Mitzrayim) that the yidden were in, as it says "you were naked and bare", they could not have left from there to freedom only through this - that they were Mosser nefesh completely for Hakadosh Baruch Hu. And the Sefarim write that they tied it to the bedpost because that is the place where the strength of the Egyptians came from (sexual promiscuity). And even so, from the very place that the Egyptians took their strength of impurity, the Jewish people tied it there - with Messiras Nefesh for Hashem".

And this is what happens as well in Step Three of the 12 Steps. The person gives his will and life over with complete Messiras Nefesh to the care of G-d. And by doing this, he ties his animal nature to the bed post, completely surrendering all sexual desire to Hashem. And it is in this merit that he is worthy of the miracle that occurs afterwards when G-d removes him from Mitzrayim, and he suddenly discovers - as the Pasuk says: "Hashem Yilachem Lachem, Ve'atem tacharishum - G-d will fight for you, and you shall be silent".

And this is also perhaps why the second blood was the blood of Milah, which again symbolizes the Messiras Nefesh that the Yidden had in guarding the bris and covenant with Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

As the Bne Yissachar writes (Derech Pikudecha): "We have a tradition from our fathers that the Yetzer Hara desires more than anything to attack a person through sexual sins, because in this desire are included all the others".

Since sexual desire encompasses all other desires, by tying the sheep to the bed-post and by making a Bris Millah, both of which symbolize Messiras Nefesh in the area of sexual purity, the Yidden were in essence giving ALL their desires over to Hashem, and in this merit they were able to break free of the impurity of Egypt.

To sum up, for our purposes: The lesson of Yetziyas Mitzrayim, which symbolizes breaking free from the lowest levels of impurity and servitude to the Yetzer hara, is accomplished today just as it was then, by recognizing we are powerless and crying out to Hashem (Step 1) and by giving our lives and will over to Him with complete Messiras Nefesh (Step 3). And this is not so hard for us addicts to do, because we have no choice. We know that continuing down the path of addiction will destroy our lives, both in this world and the next.

So let us cry out to Hashem to open our hearts, and let us give our lives and will over to Him in a very real and basic way. For that is the message of Yetziyas Mitzrayim as the Pasuk says "Zacharti Lach Chesed Ne'uraiyich - Lech Tech Arai Bamidbar etc... I remember the kindness of your youth, come after me into the desert". Let us feel as the Yidden felt then when they followed Hashem blindly into the desert; a complete dependency on Hashem - like new born babies.

Shomer recently posted on the forum:

Perhaps the most shocking revelation to me personally, having come to the 12 steps out of the realization that I truly have no other option, is this:

The steps are not a self-help program, they are not a psychological methodology, they are about making a connection with G-d in a very basic and real way.