Of the four languages of Geula, redemption, highlighted in the beginning of this week’s Parsha, three are clearly referring to specific aspects of Yetzias Mitzrayim. “And I saved you” refers to the end of slavery, “and I redeemed you” refers to the splitting of the Sea, “and I took you to Me for a people” refers to the giving of the Torah. Question is – what does the first phrase “and I took you out” teach us? Even though the words seems to say that Hashem took us out “from under the servitude of Mitzrayim,” that is dealt with in the second expression of “I saved you.” Accordingly, since the Torah only states that which is necessary, what does “and I took you out” add to our understanding?
I heard an eye-opening explanation from Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz of Woodmere, NY. As mentioned already, the Torah adds the words “from under the servitude of Mitzrayim” after the phrase “and I took you out.” The word “servitude,” which is Sivlos in the Torah, is from the same root as “Soveil” which means to endure, bear or sustain. A person who bears a situation unwittingly comes to see the situation as normal, something that won’t change.
The following story was shared by Rabbi Leibowitz. A person collecting Tzedaka came in to see the famous Baron Rothschild to ask for a donation. Apparently in a humorous frame of mind, Rothschild asked the collector “if you had all my money, what would you do with it? “ The collector answered, “ I would purchase a horse drawn carriage so I would no longer have to walk on my feet as I make my rounds from house to house collecting Tzedaka!”
This person was so mired into a submissive state of mind, he was so “Soveil”, he so endured his current situation that he was unable to see the new reality that would ensue if he suddenly became rich. His outlook remained that of a poor Tzedaka collector, not a wealthy person who would have no need for collecting. This breaking free of a mindset, the Jews breaking out of the slave mentality they were in, was a critical part of gaining freedom from Mitzrayim. Hashem enabled them so that they would no longer be “Soveil” the life they previously endured in Mitzrayim. They were now capable of seeing a different reality for themselves, and that was foundational for building a new life as free men.
How many of us have a “Soveil” attitude? Do we envision our ability to grow spiritually, take on more hours of learning, become a more sensitive spouse, parent, friend, or are we stuck in a mindset that declares – “this is who I am, I cannot become something that I am not.” This self-defeating attitude is the result of accepting today’s situation as unchanging reality, something I cannot control. It is the opposite of a growth-mindset. We need to drop our being “Soveil” the limited circumstance we find ourselves in today, and refuse to be boxed in for the future.
Children are especially prone to this attitude of “this is my reality, I cannot change.” This notion is harmful and self-defeating. Just as Klal Yisrael changed its mindset at Yetzias Mitzrayim and envisioned a new reality, so too our children can be encouraged to grow and develop in ways they may currently not be able to imagine. Our job as parents is to help our children break free of the shackles of a “Soveil” attitude and enable them to see amazing abilities within themselves. We all need to go through a personal Yetzias Mitzrayim; we all need to break the slavery mentality that I cannot control my destiny, to a new understanding that Hashem enables me to envision a great future, filled with success.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Kalman Baumann