Going out of Mitzrayim

The Hebrew word for Egypt is "Mitzrayim", and like any other word in Hebrew, you can read them differently if you only change the vowels...so "Mitzrayim" (Egypt) can become "Metzarim" (Straits or narrow places). If we read the story with this changed word, "Going out of Egypt" can become "Going out of the narrows" or "leaving the narrowmindedness".

So the meaning of the story would become that in order to really become free we first need to leave the narrowmindedness behind. How many in our days could benefit from this insight? Slavery was the place of narrowness, but liberation demands that we take an active role in leaving slavery behind.

We often become slaves to our own perceptions and ideas and we close our minds to those who present an alternative view, thus we remain the slaves of our ideas and preconceptions. This slavery gets worse when we end up confronting those who disagree with us and slowly but surely we become enslaved by that confrontation as well, and blind to our own situation as slaves. How often does a rivalry between friends or siblings, often over issues nobody can even remember, keep those who were at some point close far apart?

So many times, the first step to liberation is to disengage from the conflict in order to gain a clearer perspective, and open ourselves to new possibilities. The Separation Fence being built by Israel and the Gaza disengagement are ways in which Israel sought to disengage from the conflict with the Palestinians; changing the terms of an ongoing argument is the way we many times disengage from a conflict with siblings or friends, and the way sometimes organizations disengage from a conflict with other organizations.

After we disengage, we need to abandon our narrowmindness and be able to think broad, laterally and out of the box to find real solutions for the real problems, peeling away the layers of conflict added on top of them. But open ourselves to the possibility of changing a relationship can be scary, because change itself can be scary. To reach Sinai and the promised land, however, we need to change.

Receiving the Torah demands that we leave behind our preconceptions and approach the teachings with an open mind so we can appreciate both, the timeless truths as well as the changing interpretations. We need to learn to fly and achieve a higher understanding of the reason for our existence - That's what the Torah demand from us.

In all truth, the Hebrew word "Mitzraim" comes from the Egyptian "Misr", and the pluralization refers to the frequent division between the Lower and Upper Egypt. The idea of using the word, however, to take us in a different direction was too tempting. Or is the direction of this disgression really that different from the original meaning?


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