Shabbat Shalom: Going through it to get past it

Jan 25, 2024 | Article

By: Rolando Kahn
Director of Communications

1. A going out; a departure or emigration, usually of a large number of people.
2. The Exodus, the departure of the Israelites from Egypt under Moses.

“The exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and in every day.” — Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

In what is probably one of the most recognizable Torah portions, Parashat Beshalach, Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, through the parted sea out of harm’s way. They enter a new wilderness on the other side where they encounter thirst, hunger, and a battle with the Amalekites. The newly freed slaves celebrate, worry, and wonder as they continue their journey to the promised land. G*d helps them along the way, providing sweet water and manna along with specific instructions on how to enjoy these wonders. There are, of course, bumps along the way as people don’t listen to G*d’s instructions and bemoan each new obstacle. This chapter in the story of the Jewish people is a rollercoaster of emotions.

An exodus is far from easy. There is preparation for the road ahead followed by the need to maneuver and adapt to unexpected situations and, sometimes, there are new rules that you did not expect to be in place when you set out on the journey. At times, one can feel like it might have just been easier to stay put in the previous situation, throw one’s hands up, and accept fate. This holds true for a physical exit from a situation as well as a certain state of mind. In other words, it can feel easier to whine, complain, and be upset about the changes coming at you, rather than take the steps necessary to keep the faith.

Rabbi Nachman said, “The exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being…” We all have our own “Egypt” that we are desperately trying to escape from; we are constantly striving to make our grand exit, whether it be from a bad situation here in the real world, or a negative state of mind in our own head. For example, my Egypt shows up in the form of spiraling thoughts when something doesn’t go exactly right, or when I am waylaid by unexpected barriers. These thoughts can enslave me at times, ordering my physical body to act and react in ways it wouldn’t normally because it thinks these thoughts “are in control.”

Separating myself from my negative thoughts is hard. When I arrive at my figurative sea with the bad thoughts chasing close behind, I think, “Why did I even try to leave them behind in the first place?” And just in a nick of time, the sea parts and I can see more clearly why I began my exodus from negativity. It must have been just as hard for the Israelites to see the “why” of their journey at certain points in their travels.

We all must make the effort to make our own personal “exodus” from the things that enslave us. Whether it be a bad habit, an unhappy relationship, or simply changing our mindset to look at everything in a more positive light (even when it’s hard), we must work to escape the physical and spiritual maladies of our lives and allow them to drown in the metaphorical sea behind us once we pass safely through. And that’s the key; we must go through it to get past it and arrive safely at the other side, at our own version of a promised land.

Shabbat Shalom.

Please email Rolando Kahn at with questions or comments.