For in Haste you left Egypt: Ki Be'Chipazon Yatzasem Mi'Mitzrayim
There is a moment in addiction that can change everything. It's the moment of truth. Once the pain of 'using' finally forces a radical shift in the mind of the addict, he cries: "It's over! I want out." Then there is a brief window of opportunity to act upon promptly. Haste is imperative -- in order to ensure that this moment is not lost. It's time to go!
The Jewish people were not only enslaved in Egypt. Our Kabbalistic teachers tell us that they were also on a "spiritual mission." During the hundreds of years that the Children of Israel lived in the land of Egypt, they gathered and elevated sparks of holiness that were hidden among the filth of the Egyptian culture-which had insidiously contaminated the Jewish slaves. Our ancestors did what they had to do while enslaved in the lowest place on earth, they were ultimately successful in their mission. Once the last spark was freed, there was no reason to stay there. After that, it would have been very dangerous for the Jewish people to remain in Egypt. Once the job was done, they had to be ready to bolt. They had to get out as quickly as they could, or they may have risked their only chance to escape.
Each one of us has a purpose in this world, a mission to accomplish. I have heard it said that an addict's raison d'être is simple: Just stay sober-one day at a time -- simple but hard. While in active addiction, an addict or alcoholic might find themselves sinking to an unfathomably low moral code. When a person has had enough of that way of living, there is the possibility of leaving behind the shackles of an insidious slavery. Once someone is finally ready, he needs to move immediately. To delay could mean doom for this person.
In the case of addiction, leaving immediately when we have had enough is simple to understand. But what lesson do we learn from the fact that the Jewish people's slavery was also a redemption for sparks of holiness? How can active self-sabotaging and destructive behavior have any redeeming features? I would like to suggest the following: Throughout the chaotic years of active addiction, the addict ends up in places that he would never have visited otherwise. He meets and interacts with people he never would have connected with otherwise. Although the obvious reason was a negative one, nevertheless those places and people had sparks of holiness hidden in them. When the addicts recovers, he elevates not only himself, but also all the people and places that were part of his destructive journey.
When G-d tells us to get ready to move, to put on our walking shoes and grab our walking stick, He is saying, "Prepare to run, and don't look back!" When the command comes, we shouldn't think! We are ready to act! Sometimes we get trapped in the world of thought and rationalize away the most obvious solution. After all, you've heard: "Don't make a hasty decision." It's true. Unless, of course, G-d is saying: "Do it now!"
What step do we have to take to be freed from the bondage of self? We have to make a decision that it's over. Our ego, our character defects - and especially our false sense of pride, try to convince us that we are "just fine." They convince us that someone else needs to change, and that the way we are is okay. Our self-deceptive thinking is holding us back from being set free. Arguing and debating is useless at this point. The only thing that works is to make a firm decision that we are done with slavery -- and "Just Do It!"
This Passover, let's take the time to see what is holding us back, what is keeping us stuck. Once we are aware, let's get ready! We call out to G-d for help, and then we are prepared to run. This will surely cause G-d to react in kind -- to finish His mission and bring the ultimate redemption immediately with the coming of Moshiach.
Adapted from an article by Benyamin Bresinger