In Torah we have a concept called "Yerida l'tzorech aliya," which I translate here as "what goes down must come up." According to the spiritual design of the universe, every descent is only for the purpose of an ascent. There are many physical expressions of this concept. As with a basketball player heading for a slam dunk, first he bends his knees super low and that enables him the momentum to leap back up even higher.
Your infinitely powerful and all-knowing soul compressing down into your dense physical body, with all its limitations, is considered the prime example of this. What your soul can accomplish with this descent into a body is astronomically higher than where it could get to otherwise. Your expansive soul has come into the specific form and makeup of you, your character and life circumstances, in order to experience your particular array of challenges, so that you would rise up and birth your greatest self through them.
Everything you encounter in your life is catered exactly to what your soul has come here to know and create itself through. To go deep down into those dark and shadowy places of the mind, body and heart, sometimes for prolonged and arduous periods; and then to shine your enlightened self into them, transforming the “curses to blessings.”
In Hebrew, Egypt is known as Mitzrayim, which has at its root the word “Metzar,” a narrow strait.
Like the compression of a spring, when we get pushed into tight places, the tension builds and triggers us to take action. And when all that tension is released, it propels us forward to greater heights. People come up with the most brilliant innovations when under pressure to produce. Discomfort catalyzes change. When the soul, your consciousness, encounters constriction of any sort, struggle, adversity, pain, it becomes alerted to what is pushing for expansion, to what part of you is ready to be birthed from that narrow strait.
The literal and metaphysical descent into Egypt was sinking to the darkest levels of human experience. But not so that we would perish and end our story there. You must face your own darkness in order to find greatness. You must face your fears to know yourself truly. Abraham was promised that not only would his children be slaves in a land that was not their own, but that we would also be redeemed and made into a great nation in our own land.
Exodus from the dire constriction of Egypt shaped us as a nation and gave us an identity by which to always know ourselves and God. Our God is the One who took us out of Egypt; that is how He identifies Himself when we received the Torah at Mt. Sinai and sealed in our first commandment. And we are a people that has the ability to walk out of Egypt. To go from a slave people to a free and abundantly wealthy nation who received the Torah. To transform great darkness to abundant light.
What is it that enables us to transform darkness in such drastic ways and how can we apply that to the serious challenges we are facing today? The wisdom gained from our experience exiting Egypt seems to be as follows:
1. Cry out to God when you need help: This means first and foremost internalizing that God is listening and cares and wants to take you out of your suffering and bring you to 'a land flowing with milk and honey.' Going through the constriction is the route to activate your potential and take you there. Identify what exactly you are feeling, let God know in words, and ask God to free you from that strait, even if it will take a million miracles for it to happen. Miracles are easy for God.
2. Be open to perceiving the miracles when they come: Expand your vision. When Moses arrived, there was a recognition that he could be the one to lead us out of slavery. There was also doubt about him being any help at all because of the level of despair we were in. Slavery was all we had known for centuries. Therefore, even when faced with disheartening facts, choose to be aware of a higher level consciousness that allows for possibilities beyond your scope of experience. The miracles that occurred when we were freed from Egypt were like nothing the world had ever known before. Know that could happen now as well.
3. Use your fears to open to greater levels of trust: The Jewish slave women kept musical instruments, for they trusted that one day they would use them to celebrate being liberated. Nachshon ben Aminadav jumped into the sea before it split, trusting that it would. Trust is greater than faith. It's taking action that relies upon the belief being true. So beyond mentally knowing that miracles are possible, come to a place where you expect them to happen for you.
4. Stick together as a community: When we stood at the mountain to receive the Torah we were like "one person with one heart." We are each a part of a unified whole, and when we function as one, with each person being their individual best and appreciating and supporting each other, then we are capable of soaring to the greatest elevations.
The writer is a Jerusalem-based licensed psychotherapist and energy healer, who incorporates Torah based concepts into her therapy and workshops. For information: yochevedkalev.com