From Exile to Exodus
By Oren Levi
According to Kabbalists, the word Mitzraim (Egypt) is divided into two words—Meitzar (a strait, a narrow) and Yam (sea). Right before we achieve spirituality and oneness with the Creator, we feel pressed between two internal forces that seem to be pulling us in opposite directions. But these straits are actually the gateway to eternity, if and when we truly want to walk through them.
Like all Biblical stories, the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt has much greater significance than the debate as to whether the Israelites actually waded through the Red Sea. If you read this allegory with a Kabbalist’s eye, you will find that every word in this familiar tale receives a profound, even sacred meaning.
Every word in the Torah (Pentateuch) reflects a certain manner of connecting to the Creator. Moses, the protagonist in the story of Egypt, represents not only a specific type of contact with the Creator, but is the very desire to make that first contact with Him, the bridgehead.
It is written in the Mishnah (Sutah 9:15) that at the end of days, impudence, or self-centeredness, will soar. The text describes the essence of the generation that will be alive at the end of days, the time of the Messiah, as “the face of the generation is as the face of a dog.”
The transition from being a self-centered (doglike) generation to being a Creator-centered (Godlike) generation is described in the Torah as “the crossing of the Red Sea.” Curiously, the Hebrew name for the Red Sea is Yam Suf, since, according to The Book of Zohar (Part 2, p. 56), Suf actually means Sof (end). In other words, when the Moses within us has used all the “tricks in his bag” to pull us out of Egypt and toward the Creator, we will find ourselves standing at the shores of the Sea, the end of the road. And when hope is (almost) gone, the sea will break in two, and we will cross it towards freedom, and towards the Creator.
When we reach Yam Suf, we will pass over to the other side. Moreover, we will do it with the help of the Creator, who will block the Egyptians (our self-centeredness), and pave our way to freedom through Moses (the part in us that focuses on the Creator).
At the end of the day, Passover is the end of the previous day, but also the beginning of tomorrow and the prospect of our new freedom.