In Parashat Shemini, chapter 11, verse 45, it is written: “Ki ani Hashem hama’aleh etchem me’eretz Mitzrayim”, “I am Hashem Who brings you up from the land of Egypt”. Rashi points out that in all verses that refer to God taking Israel out of Egypt, it is written “hotzeiti”, “I brought you out”, but here it is written “Who brings you up”. The question, obviously, is "why?" The narrative in that Parasha is about creatures that we cannot eat. Rashi explains the verse with a teaching from Rabbi Yishmael: “Had I (God) not brought Israel out of Egypt for any reason other than that they do not make themselves impure through creepy things, it would have been sufficient cause for them to have been redeemed, and abstaining from creepy things is an elevation for them. This is why the Torah uses the expression "brings up".
"Every time we rid ourselves from a negative emotion, character trait or habit, we are leaving behind some sort of enslavement and we experience freedom."
This month, as we observe Passover, we celebrate freedom from bondage as we again tell the story of how God took us out of the land of Egypt. I find it compelling that during this season, the Torah is whispering to us that God is doing much more than taking us out of Egypt. God is bringing us up, elevating us; and from this we understand that the ultimate goal of the exodus from Egypt is to elevate our souls. To this day, this concept still speaks to us. Every time we rid ourselves from a negative emotion, character trait or habit, we are leaving behind some sort of enslavement and we experience freedom. Negativity can be compared to slavery because it is usually attached to us, like a ball and chain. The moment we get rid of one negative aspect of our lives is so liberating, and our verse from the Torah applies perfectly: "I bring you up". Egypt is a symbol of constriction, limitation, and even narrow mindedness, just like negativity in our life. To shake off this negativity is so liberating, it allows us to grow, and our soul expands at the same time.
"The energy of that period allows us, if we do the work, to release negativity in our life."
The seven week period -known as the Omer- between the second Seder and the holiday of Shavuot is a particularly auspicious time for introspection work. The energy of that period allows us, if we do the work, to release negativity in our life. This is because the counting of the Omer is used Kabbalistically to rectify 49 emotional aspects in order to be ready and worthy to receive the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot. The counting of the Omer is a special time for spiritual refinement and elevation. It is a gift to us, we should use it!
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