Get More Enthusiasm for Your Judaism!
Moses is given his charge to free the Children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. He sets off on his mission and doesn't get very far at the first shot. In fact his arrival on the scene makes things a lot worse for the Israelite slaves. As we turn our attention towards Pesach, it's worth reflecting on how their journey to freedom is played out on an individual level throughout our lives.
As a response to the demand to "let my people go", Pharoah doubles their workload saying "you lazy folk, you have a minute to breathe and you start talking about going out to the desert - must be you're not working hard enough".
This isn't just a snarky response of a brutal taskmaster.
The Torah relates that Pharoah had become very nervous that this population of well over a million productive workers would just pick up and leave if they had the opportunity. That's why he started the campaign of oppression in the first place.
Rabbi Moshe Hayyim Luzatto in Mesillas Yesharim (Ch. 2), points out that Pharoah was acting strategically here. He understood that these people, given a chance to think objectively about their situation and their options, would have welled up in a rebellion and gone on their way.
He figured out that the best way to keep them enslaved was to make sure they wouldn't
have the time or energy to imagine something different. So when he saw them become restless, he immediately slammed more work on them to
keep them bound up.
What about you? There are moments when you realise that there are things you'd like to achieve, stuff that you wish you could change. Little things, big things. If you're not doing anything about it, why not?
One reason is that there are so many important things you need to be getting on with that you can barely afford to pay attention to thoughts like that. Too busy to even imagine who you could be, what you could achieve, let alone how to get on with it.
What do you do at your restless moments? Keep busy so that you don't have to think too much about it? It's unsettling to wonder whether you're really being the person you could be or doing the things you love doing.
When Moses came a second time to assure the people that there would be an exodus from Egypt..."they didn't hear Moses because of low spirits and hard work". Surely it should have said it the other way round: hard work, then low spirits.
But the point is precisely that it was the low spirits that caused the hard work to shut them off from hearing. It was the self imposed chains of doubt and fear of change that prevented them from imagining the freedom that was being offered.
It's the same with us. The main thing that stops us from changing ourselves is fear. We're afraid that we'll mess it up, and we're afraid of what would happen if we succeeded. And that fear and doubt makes us take cover in a flurry of activity.
How about taking a few minutes a day to stop doing and allow yourself to just get shaken by these thoughts and explore your imagination. Find something that you want to change or improve, make a plan and go for it.