The Act of Freedom - שמות

Thursday, 12 January, 2023 - 10:35 pm


The Act of Freedom 

The challenge is too great, the task too daunting, and the odds of success are too slim. The natural response is to do nothing. This was at the heart of Moses' reluctance to accept G-d's mission and lead the people out of Egypt. Throughout the conversation at the burning bush, Moses raised many objections; he did not think he was the right person who would succeed in liberating the Jews. Moses began by asserting that even before the challenge of confronting Pharaoh, the Jewish people themselves would not believe his message: 

Moses answered and said, "Behold they will not believe me, and they will not heed my voice, but they will say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.'"

G-d responded by presenting three signs to Moses that would persuade the people that G-d did, in fact, appear to him. The second of these signs read as follows:

And the Lord said further to him, "Now put your hand into your chest," and he put his hand into his chest, and he took it out, and behold, his hand was leprous like snow.

And He said, "Put your hand back into your chest," and he put his hand back into his chest, and [when] he took it out of his chest, it had become again like [the rest of] his flesh.

With this sign, G-d was conveying a profound message to Moses and to each of us, seeking to break out of our own personal "Egypt", our constraints, limitations, and blockages. The message of this sign is that inaction, "put your hand into your chest", leads to leprosy, a depletion of the life-giving blood, which is synonymous with death. In order for the skin to heal, Moses had to take his hand out of his chest: "he took it out of his chest, it had become again like [the rest of] his flesh". The message was clear. The path to national and personal liberty is to take action. You may not see how this one positive act will solve the problem, but the positive action makes you a partner with G-d in perfecting and healing the world. We must take the first step in the right direction, and G-d will help that one action create a positive dynamism that will ultimately lead to the breaking out of Egypt. 

The key to breaking out of our inner Egypt, our negative habits, limitations, and debilitating despair, is to "remove our hand from our chest" and engage in a specific positive action. 

Adapted from the Malbim   

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