And they're out!
After a long saga with Pharaoh and his stubbornness, the Israelites are finally set free in this week's Parshah.
However, a bit of honest reflection. We mock Pharaoh for refusing to bow and concede to Moses, but if the truth be told, the Jews themselves were not that fast themselves to concede to Moses' inspiring message of redemption.
When Moses first arrived, fresh from The Conversation at the burning bush, declaring to the enslaved Jews that freedom was at hand, the Torah records that "...they didn't hear Moses; for they were short of breath and overworked."
Only after a lot of patient work on Moses and Aaron's part and some special effect plagues did the Jews open their heart and minds to the possibility that yes, this might actually be happening, we might be getting some good news after all these decades of misery.
But listen to the causes of their inability to hear Moses words: they were a) "short of breath" and b) "overworked."
And if experience has shown anything, those two causes remain, to this day, in this city "The Big Pumpkin," the top two reasons given by people who decline offers to learn how to be more spiritual and more finely in tune with their own faith.
Top excuse bar none is "I'm short of breath." Now, they don't say it that way, but if breath is spirit then the message is the same: "I'm not a very spiritual kind of guy. I'm actually kind of short on spirit, thank you very much. My grandpa, wow, he had loads of spirit! Every Friday night..."
Second top excuse: "I'm overworked." Or more to the point, "I don't have time for this, I'm sorry. I would love to learn, to discover; but between meetings, deadlines, family, soccer, Big Bear, and American Idol, I got zero time for faith. Maybe in a different lifetime..."
But in the name of Moses and that's holy, I guarantee you this: Everyone, without exception, wants to believe, wants to nurture the spirit and wants to live their faith. The woman who says she's too busy means it. She would love to, but she believes she absolutely cannot. The guy who claims to be a completely irreligious agnostic would pay anything to have his faith back.
The desire to be close to G-d is as natural to the human being as the desire for food, clothing, shelter and love. Everyone wants it, but shortness of breath and overworking throws a wrench in the monkey-works.
So two words to the wise: Wake up.
Life is too short to make excuses for an inability to truly live like you mean it. If you're "short of breath" make friends with a rabbi right away, I know a good one I can recommend in a heartbeat. And if you're overworked, stop it! You're working your life away! (Not to mention your kids'.) Ease up on making a living and put the pedal to the metal on actually living. Get deep, get spiritual, find your purpose, find meaning.
Sorry to be so blunt, but we Minnesotans have no diplomatic skills. (Remember Jesse Ventura?)
But really, get ye out of Egypt, it's no place for a nice boychikel like you.
Shabbat Shalom, Good Shabbos!