People view Passover as the holiday of the historical exodus from Egypt. “We used to be slaves and we built several cities and pyramids for Pharaoh, and then we came out to freedom.” However, in realty we are not celebrating a date in the historical calendar. After all, the situation today is much worse than back then. It’s enough to compare the situation of the nation of Israel in Ancient Egypt with the current situation and you would be running back to kiss Pharaoh’s hands, begging him to let you back.
The Jews lived in the land of Goshen, which was the most favorable part of Egypt with the most fertile soil and abundant herds. You could do whatever you want because Pharaoh doesn’t just rule there but he protects you as well. No one can touch a hair on your head, your vats are full of meat, your nets—full of fish, and your storehouses are full of produce. You are a slave only because you have to listen to Pharaoh. This means: Act by the orders of your egoism, and nothing more than that.
The Jews had a wonderful life, so it wasn’t incidental that they complained to Moses in the desert, “Where are the meat and fish, where is the onion and garlic that we ate in Egypt!? Our lives were great, and where have you brought us now?”
So what do we remind ourselves of on this holiday? Were we surrounded by enemies back then the way we are today? On the contrary, we had all the favors at our disposal and Pharaoh’s power protected us from enemies. In his country he allowed us to live however we wanted, even on separate territory and by our own laws. So what’s so bad about that compared to the current situation?
As Baal HaSulam writes, if the Jews today could disperse all over the countries of the Diaspora, then almost no one would be left in Israel. We have to understand: Egypt becomes a dungeon only when you start to think about spiritual exile, when you lack the Creator. If not for the need for spiritual redemption, Egypt by itself is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here you have everything besides the Creator, besides the answer to the question about the meaning of life. You have everything else in abundance. You are living the life of a king and you lack just one thing, “I want bestowal and love for the neighbor.”
When you desire precisely this, then Egypt will seem like exile to you. This is the only thing missing here—love for the neighbor. Thus, it turns out that we celebrate Passover to commemorate the good life in Egypt and not the redemption, which no one really needs. After all, coming out of Egypt means throwing away everything we have besides love.
Do we feel that we are in exile? On the contrary, people do not understand what this is talking about. But love for the neighbor has to become your only desire. Moses demands from Pharaoh, “Let my people go! I want to leave!” To which Pharaoh replies, “What do you lack, Moses? You grew up in my arms. Stay the Egyptian prince. Be a prince! Why are you making a revolution here? For the sake of love for the neighbor? You’ve gone crazy!”
Only at the end of the path does Egypt become a land of exile for us. But until that happens, we are satiated with everything besides bestowal.
It turns out that we celebrate this holiday to honor the fact that we once lacked love for the neighbor. If only it were possible to really explain this to the people and to show them the true situation today. Today are we willing to forgo anything in our rich lives for the sake of love for the Creator, for the neighbor, for friends, for the sake of mutual bestowal and mutual empathy? Are we close to this? Do we deserve to celebrate the holiday of redemption?
This is talking about freedom from egoism, when egoism has everything, yet I want to run away from this. I hate this abundance and I don’t desire it. I don’t need the filling food, nor the safety, nor the comfort, nor the health—nothing. I am ready to drown in the waters of the Marginal Sea or to dry up from thirst in the desert—anything to break out of the bonds.
So do we really want to get out to freedom?
From the 4th part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 4/13/11, Writings of Rabash