First off, a big hello to everyone visiting from The Jew and the Carrot! I’m so happy you decided to stop by. I’ll be writing over there every now and again, so I encourage you to check it out – it’s a great site!
It’s a serious post day, folks. Blame the spilled smoothie.
“In each and every generation a man must so regard himself as if he came forth himself out of Mitzrayim” (Pesachim 10:5).
Mitzrayim, n: The Hebrew name for the land of Egypt. Symbolically meaning a place of narrowness, hardship, and oppression, among others.
Literally, Mitzrayim was the land where the Israelites had been enslaved, and where Moses led them out of in order to head to the promised land. Figuratively, Mitzrayim refers to any place – physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or otherwise – where freedom, thought, and action are restricted. I’ve always been fascinated with the figurative interpretation, not only because it adds an interesting dimension to the Pesach story, but because I believe each and every one of us, in some way, has to confront and march our way out of our own personal Mitzrayim.
It’s not a radical concept. We all talk about our barriers, our road blocks, and our hurdles we have to deal with in the course of not only every day life, but during life in general. Lately, I’ve noticed that I’m battling this myself: the narrowness of thinking “I’m not enough.” I’m not smart enough, or capable enough, or talented enough. Though not a remarkably unique concern, it’s also a pervasive one, and I find it dogging me incessantly.
During moments like these, I find myself thinking of Mitzrayim, and about the Israelites leaving slavery and bondage. I think of these people, who not only had been told but believed they were nothing more than servants and slaves their entire lives, facing the Sea of Reeds, and thinking “Man, I don’t think I’m capable of doing this.” I think of them doubting their ability to follow this crazy, staff-wielding man across a whole desert, to a place some voice in the sky was telling him about.
I don’t necessarily believe the Exodus story is true, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that the message has truth: leaving a place of narrowness, though desirable, is scary. Facing a huge, seemingly insurmountable task makes one doubt the ability to successfully navigate the challenges ahead. But if we, as the quote says, regard ourselves as coming out of Mitzrayim, it’s only to be expected. Additionally, it suggests that this feeling does not preclude success, nor predict failure: it rather acts as a natural emotion in the passage out; a milestone or marker, if you will.
So I stared at the spilled smoothie (Sea of Smoothie? Can I get a Moses over here to part it or something?) and thought about all the ways it seemed to only reinforce my narrow thinking, and personify all the ways I have felt like a failure: “You can’t even properly pour a smoothie! How on earth can you do any of the other things you’re aiming at?!” And then I remembered the smoothie could easily be cleaned up, with a few paper towels and a little elbow grease. And that the same way I tackled that mess, I could tackle everything else. I think I’m not smart enough? Okay, nothing a little targeted education, study, and careful researching can’t take care of. Not coordinated or talented enough? Alright: let’s identify my strengths and weaknesses, and develop a plan to address what’s lacking and enhance the rest. One foot in front of the other, and I can slowly bring myself out of this place of narrowness into a place where I can be free, at least from the Mitzrayim in my own mind. Where an accident can still turn into something wonderful.
I acknowledge it’s a stretch to connect the mammoth story of the Exodus to my paltry beverage blunder. But in all honesty, it’s times like these I am reminded that everyone must face a journey out of narrowness, and it can be done successfully if we explore our options, and have the strength to examine the situation in a truthful light.
Also, I now have a spotless counter top you could drink a smoothie off of.
And I have plenty of paper towels.
I consider that a win for today.