Give Me Liberty - Give Me Life

Friday, 31 March, 2023 - 1:51 pm

Pesach is all about liberation. The first time it was from Egyptian bondage. Subsequently, it is also liberation from a slavery mindset or personal limitations. We often enslave ourselves to societal pressure or a self-created paradigm in which we are stuck. Pesach is the time to focus on breaking out of those “Metzarim” or boundaries that are keeping us down and preventing our true growth.

Last week the New Orleans Home and Garden show was held at the Morial Convention Center. We had a guest with us for Shabbat, a young Israeli fellow, who was a vendor at the show. He fashions knives and other kitchen tools. He shared with us a moving story of what happens when you break free of your self-created limitations.

He comes from a family that is traditional but not observant. When he moved to the US to expand his business, he started to attend a Synagogue. The Rabbi organized a trip to the New York area and encouraged him to go. During the trip the group visited a Yeshiva for Hebrew speakers in New York. At the end of the trip the Rabbi asked each of the participants to make a Jewish commitment. My guest said that he wasn’t sure what kind of commitment he was ready for. The Rabbi said, “why don’t you commit to study in Yeshiva for a week?” To which he responded, “I will commit to two weeks in Yeshiva.”

When they returned home, the Rabbi asked him when he was planning to keep his commitment. He replied that he wasn’t sure yet. The Rabbi said, you need to strike while the iron is hot, and suggested a time that was very near. He replied, I cannot go at that time, I already committed to exhibiting at a show in another city. The Rabbi pressed him a little and encouraged him to take the leap. After a brief deliberation, he decided to cancel his appearance at the show and go to Yeshiva. This came at a business cost because he had already put down a deposit for the exhibition and it was not refundable at that point. He would also lose the potential income from new orders that would be gained at the show. But he was prepared to accept the loss and keep his commitment to Hashem.

Four hours later he received a message from Williams Sonoma, one of the largest players in his industry. He had been trying for half a year to get them to carry his products, but he could never get anyone to give him a real answer. That day he was contacted and was given the largest order he had ever received. The profit on that order was more than he would make for months on end from all other orders.

As soon as he experienced his own “exodus from Egypt,” his opportunities expanded in unprecedented ways.

May we all experience our personal liberation from that which is keeping us down, from within and from without.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Pesach
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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