Many years ago, I asked my dear mentor, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz to condense Judaism into just one single word. Without hesitance, he replied: "consistency."Rabbi Allouche
Any expert in public speaking will tell you that the most important part of any presentation is… its opening.
Yet G-d did not seem to follow that rule. The opening of His only direct presentation to the Jewish people, in this week’s portion, is seemingly non-impressive, to say the least.
We would expect a big bang, or, at least, a joke. Instead, G-d’s first words were: “I am the Lord Your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.” Why not make the opening line more appealing? For example, G-d could have said “I am the Lord your G-d who “created Heaven and Earth,” or, “…who created each and every one of you.” The creation of our universe, and of man, is surely more remarkable than the grand Exodus!
The answer shares an important life secret:
During this majestic moment in Jewish history, G-d did not seek to glorify Himself. Instead, He sought to glorify us and elevate us. How so? By reminding us of our slavery in Egypt and our ongoing duty to take ourselves out of our spiritual Egypts too.
And so, G-d tells us “I am Your G-d who took you out of Egypt.” Or, in other words, I, G-d, will only become your G-d fully, if you come out of your Egypt-like mentality and limitations each and every day.
The message is powerful. Big splashes and grandiose achievements are important but they do not define us. Rather, we are defined by our daily grind of fighting Egypt-like moments. Like the time we refrain from gossiping about him or her. Or like the time we pray to G-d not only with our mouth but with our heart and mind as well. Or like the two minutes, we spend doing homework with our children. Or like overcoming an immoral temptation. Or like the extra phone call, we make to mend a broken relationship. For, at the end of the day, it’s those small victories that count most.
Human history is filled with examples of prodigies who made big splashes quickly, and then just as fast, vanished into obscurity. How often do we hear of rock groups that release a Billboard hit and then waste the rest of their careers on drugs and other addictions? How about sports-stars that never meet the standards set for them by scouts and experts who were captivated by their early stardom? And you wonder: Why? What happened to all that hidden potential?
Many years ago, I asked my dear mentor, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz to condense Judaism into just one single word. Without hesitance, he replied: “consistency.”
His answer was poignant. Indeed, G-d will only become ours if we become His, consistently. So, will we come out of Egypt, today? Will we find the courage to do good, today? Will G-d be ours, today?