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Dream Big, Pesakh is Coming

04/15/2011 11:24:44 AM


Rabbi George Gittleman

With Pesakh just days away, my mind turns to the epic tale of our Exodus from Egypt.  The moment that always gets me is that pregnant pause before the seas split; one can only imagine what was going through our ancient ancestors’ minds. Surely some thought death was about to be their reward for this first taste of freedom.  Others turned to Moses for deliverance and, at least according to the Midrash, some took things in their own hands, marching into the sea as if to force God’s “hand.”

In Hebrew, Egypt is called Mitzrayyim and with a little creative reading, Mitzrayyim can be translated as a narrow, or perhaps a twice-narrow place, in other words, a place of constriction, a place where one feels squeezed, limited, stuck, unable to move. I prefer this understanding of the Hebrew because it takes the narrative out of the limits of space and time and places it right before us here and now. The question becomes, “Where are we stuck? In what ways do we feel squeezed or constricted, unable to move?”

Many years ago, my friend and colleague, Margaret Holub, wrote that her Mitzrayyim was seasonal depression and “the seas split” for her when she began to take Prozac. She had wondered about sharing such a personal story, but decided that it was a story that needed telling for her and all those others who struggled in the twice-narrow place of depression and who could, through medication, be free, at least freer than they were before.

The Haggadah teaches that, “b’chol dor va-dor, in every generation each of us must regard ourselves as having been personally freed from Egypt.”   

Where are you stuck, where do you yearn to be free?  What would it mean for the “seas to split” in your life?

Pesakh invites us to enter into this Master Story of the Jewish people and in doing so to imagine a future we would otherwise think impossible.

Dream Big!  Pesakh is coming!
Hag Sameakh!

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