Sunday, April 22, 2012

Leaving Egypt

The Torah uses the expression 50 times “leaving Egypt” in one form or another.  What is so important about us going out of Egypt that it has to be repeated so many times?  I’m glad you asked or this post would have been very short.  As with everything else, the Torah always is conveying a deeper message.  Usually the “handbook of life” is teaching us an important concept about our lives and this is exactly what we have here.

Egypt was a place that was strictly a physical existence.  As slaves, we were completely dependent on the Egyptians for our food, shelter, clothing, etc.  We had virtually no spirituality until we left and traveled into the desert, received the Torah and continued to the land of Canaan.  Life is the same way we are born completely physical beings; but the Torah is telling us and guiding us as to how to make the trip through life.  Our lives are a trip from the physical to the spiritual – leaving Egypt and going to the Holy Land.

When we are born everything centers on meeting our physical needs.  I am hungry – feed me.  I am tired – let me sleep.  I am wet – there needs to be some changes made around here.  Clothe me, house me, entertain me, love me, etc me.  Then we start to grow and learn.  We get the Torah early in life, just like Mount Sinai, we start to learn about Hashem, and we spend forty years, not in the desert, per se, but progressing through life’s challenges.  All along the way going from a physical, trying to get closer to Hashem and becoming much more spiritual as we approach 120 years old (we expect to be as old as Moses when we change addresses).

Next month, I will be celebrating the 29th anniversary of my 39th birthday (just past middle age according to the last paragraph).  I can tell you without reservation that my physical needs have greatly diminished over the course of my life.  I eat much, much less than I used to.  I sleep about 4 or 5 hours a night (being retired, YEAY!, affords me time for naps during the day but usually not more than an hour at a time – maybe twice a day).  I go to bed around 10PM and get up about 2 AM to work on this blog (it takes me about 3 to 4 hours to compose the daily post – I hope you appreciate my sacrifice) then I go to Morning Prayer services.  I remember when I wasn’t happy unless I got about 10 hours a night sleep and I still wanted to nap during the day.  My desire to study Torah has increased as my great desire to come closer to Hashem.  I have experienced this trip from Egypt to the Holy land especially since I just happen to live in the Holy Land.

But what is the significance of 50 times in the Torah.  50 is a very significant number in Judaism.  At this time of year we count the Omer - 49 days from the second night of Pesach until Shavuot, the 50th day which is the day that we received the Torah.  The Israelites were at the 49th levels of Spiritual Impurity which was just above the lowest level, the 50th.  So, even their trip had the significance of coming out of such a low spiritual level and making the trip towards the Spiritual Purity.  Moses achieved the 49th level of bina, intellectual insights, out of a possible total of 50 such levels.  The reason that Moses never reached the 50th and ultimate level of bina was that the achievement must parallel the effort expended on achieving the goal in question.  Had the Israelites descended to the 50th level of impurity, the effort at gaining the final level of insight would have been possible.

I forgot to mention, when I talked about reincarnation, that our present generation which is here to greet the Messiah, is the generation that was at Mount Sinai.  The Jews of today (and even the lost tribes that are returning to Israel) are all reincarnated to experience the redemption.  I think I remember seeing you there.

Back to the subject.  There are other 50’s such as the Jubilee celebration that occurred every 50 years when we had the Temple.  The Jubilee cycle will resume with the coming of the third Temple.

One can see the tremendous significance to the number 50 in leaving Egypt and going to Israel – leaving the physical and going to the spiritual.

Does this mean that Hashem doesn’t want us to be materialistic in life?  What about the American Dream:  cars, a mansion, maybe a yacht, vacations, drugs, alcohol, corruption, greed, higher suicide rate, splintered family relationships, looking over your shoulder often, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc (oh, I’m sorry I think I added some extra, very realistic, commodities to the American Dream).  Hashem wants us to be comfortable and have the necessities of life.  But, what does a two million dollar home give me that a 500,000 dollar home doesn’t?  The answer is much less spirituality and more waste.  There are so many people in this world that are hungry and without the necessities of life.  Wouldn’t the extra 1 and ½ million be better spent on helping people?  If our job in life is correcting ourselves by following the will of Hashem, it seems very counter-productive to waste the opportunity to achieve a tremendous eternity in exchange for opulence during a very short time on earth.  Remember the space between my fingers with which I started this blog – that’s how long life is, outside the fingers is the real life called eternity.  The mansion and vacations are starting to look like a hell of an idea.  They could provide you with a hot spot for travel after you leave Earth.  Go for the Jewish Dream instead, happiness, loving family, much happier children, a better education system, dear friends who help each other, great neighbors, peace of mind, good food, nice clothes including a prayer shawl (tallit) with fringe benefits, two kitchen sinks, no boredom, great future and, the best of all, a relationship with the Owner of the universe (now you are truly a VIP).  Oh, I forgot etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc and, one more, ETC.   
Enjoy your journey through life.  May you be both physically and spiritually comfortable and realize which one truly is the greater comfort.  


  1. Just want to encourage you to keep telling the truth. I pray many hear and many do Torah all the time. Question:How in this world do we shine the light when the world only chooses to see darkness?
    Answer: What your doing on this blog is a good start!

  2. Excellent site and postings. Just one ting try to sleep a lit bit more, it is dangerous for the life. At least 6 hours. Hatslaha Raba in everything you do!

    1. Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer,[1] (Hebrew: ר' אליהו בן שלמה זלמן‎) known as the Vilna Gaon was said to sleep only a total of about 2 hours a day, in short naps. I am not comparing me to him by any stretch of the imagination but I do emulate him. I agree that life is so short and sleep time can be wasted time (loss of study time) even though, ready for this, sleep is for the soul not for the body. It actually is a recharging mechanism to enhance the spiritual. I guess I do need it after all.

    2. Takes one to know one. Just kidding, you probably are one. I hardly know you, but I know that I have a long way to go.
      Thank you

    3. Thank you Menachem, Hashem should give you strenght to strenghten others always.

  3. Love your blog and your sense of humor. I need the smile it inspires. :-)

  4. Leaving Ethiopia: All of us in galut should strive to make aliyah like this blind Jew did: