Shlomo Ezagui

Faith and prayer are the keys to internal freedom

The worst part of prison is that you are not free to be a master over your own life. Your life is totally hijacked by outsiders who are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. A worse type of prison is when one has become comfortable living under inhumane circumstances.

Someone enjoying a good dream while his house is burning down and does not want to be woken up is far worse off than someone trying to escape the inferno. At least the one trying has a chance to save himself.

The children of Jacob, the Israelites, were subjected to the prison and slavery of Egyptian exile as part of the process of bringing them to nationhood and independence. Not even one slave ever escaped the confines of this prison.

Before a person reaches maturity and adulthood, he is subjected to what is called in mysticism the “animal soul.” The animal soul animates and energizes the body. It thinks and acts primarily for its survival.

Like an animal, what concerns children and immature individuals is primarily their self-interest: self-preservation, self-enjoyment, ego, and power. Once established, these habits enslave and control a person.

When a person becomes old enough, he realizes the virtue of living not only (inside the prison) for oneself but also for others, for a greater purpose and meaning; yet, it may be difficult to escape the old habits and addictions of self-centeredness.

How do I change my focus from “me and I” to a world that can use my talent, resources, and goodwill? How do I not give in anymore to “me” and instead use myself for the sake of something bigger, so my life can become one of more value?

God promised Abraham that this exile would come to an end and they would come out of Egypt richer and wealthier. Still, the Bible tells us there were some specific acts those Israelites who escaped and were liberated from exile dedicated themselves to performing, which helped alleviate their suffering and arouse God’s attention to assist them:

“And their cries went up to God.”
“They cried out to God in their anguish.”
“And God heard their cries.”

Speech has tremendous power. It is one of the primary features of a human being. It is the fruit that grows from the essence of one’s soul and which, when used properly, will connect a person with the roots of their soul.

When a person prays to God in simplicity, connects with God with his mind, and in his heart and soul, he expresses those desires which only God can hear and fulfill, and does so with enthusiasm — as we see the Israelites did in their times of need — God always comes through with an answer of and for liberation.

Prayer has a tremendous ability to create the will in God to respond to the requests of the prayers.

A second powerful tool the Israelites used was faith. “In the merit of faith, our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt.”

They realized the formidable strength they would need to change the status quo and understood they could get it only from the faculty within our souls called faith. Although built into our souls, faith requires constant nourishment through reading and studying and through exposure to those who strengthen their faith in a God who does all for good and gives us the strength to address our present challenges.

Faith in God (and prayer) is the foundation and pillar to everything in our lives, and the strength that brings us joy for the greatest and most authentic freedoms.

Chapter 219

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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