When the Israelites leave Egypt, they are running from the hard work and slavery. But, truth be told, the Israelites didn’t just pick up and choose to leave, they were expelled and forced from their houses and lands in Egypt.
“Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, ‘Get up, leave my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.’” (Ex 12:31)
We can understand the difficulty of suddenly having to leave their homes and their way of life, as difficult as it may have been. After 400 years, the Israelites had learned to live a certain way and even became accustomed to getting along without any high hopes or aspirations. We can understand that too. Have we not all been in that place at some point in our lives? Slaves to our comfort zones and habits and accepting quietly the things that we think we cannot change?
During these Corona days don’t we all want to get back to the routines we miss so much?
When you are used to slavery it is very difficult to escape it on your own. You need help and sometimes you need someone to pick you up and throw you out. That is exactly what has happened to Israel and to all of us. Corona has cast us out of the lives we were used to, forced us out of the routines we had come to depend on.
Corona is like Pharaoh
Like Corona, Pharaoh was the most powerful force in the world. They both strike the weak. Pharaoh killed male babies, Corona the elderly and the sick.
No pleading from Moshe or Aaron to “Let my people go” helped. No prayers have yet to deliver us from Corona.
It was at this point of total despair in Egypt that divine intervention came and cast the people out and into a better place. There was no time to bake bread and fill a lunch box, no map, just thrown from the familiar and into a desert wilderness, forced to leave everything they knew behind and get used to a whole new way of life. The Egyptians kicked Israel into a whole new existence. Without knowing it, Pharaoh had sent the people of Israel to Sinai and the revelation of the God of Israel.
Corona too has forced us to leave everything we are familiar with and find a new way. Will we too go up to the mountain of the Lord? Are we willing to let ourselves come out from the routines, habits, or even the loss of a job to find a new freedom, deeper insights about God and even salvation?
Corona too cast us out of our comforts into isolation, some to unemployment, alone and without visiting friends or family. We too need to open our eyes and hearts to a new way of living, to new thoughts, ideas, or even a new vision about life, about God.
Will we allow this move to make us healthier, better to our loved ones, our families, the creation around us and to ourselves?
Let my people go
This year the Passover Haggadah, the story of our Exodus from Egypt, takes on a whole new meaning. We are told that “In every generation, a person must see himself as if he came out of Egypt.”
We too can allow the difficulties we are experiencing to bring us closer to the right place for us, to God. As we walk through this process of leaving the routine, we can allow the lifestyle changes and difficulties to carry us towards a new personal and spiritual freedom. Embrace the belief that all things can work together for good, that there is divine providence that knows better than us what’s good for me, what’s good for you.
As Rabbi Moses once said so powerfully, “Let my people go!”