Shabbat HaGadol - the great Sabbath immediately prior to our Passover celebration of redemption - approaches. Once again, we look for inspiration in the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The ancient rabbis – as they often did – played with the Hebrew word for Egypt – mitzrayim – as if related to the word mitzarim – narrow places. They suggested that our people’s slavery in Egypt is played out in our lives as the “narrow places”, that is those things that hold us back in life, keeping us from freely being the men and women we are meant to be, in the fullest sense. To overcome, or outgrow these mitzarim, the “stuff” that constrains us in life, it is necessary to take risks, to become vulnerable, and to allow ourselves to undergo new experiences that might bring blessings to our lives that we never knew before (cue Daltrey singing “no one had the guts to leave the temple!”).
As we prepare for next week’s arrival of Passover, let us use this time to consider the mitzarim that plagues our own lives. Like ridding our homes of chametz, it takes concerted effort and planning to free ourselves from such burdens. Ask yourself: what is it you hope to accomplish in this spring season of renewal that will enhance your life? This year we are still bondsmen – next year, may all be free!