Nelly Shulman
Nelly Shulman

Leaving a comfort zone

At the end of Pesach, we read the account of the children of Israel breaking free of the Egyptian bondage. The attention here is usually drawn to the glorious Song of the Sea. However, a few verses before that Moses is still having troubles with the fellow Jews unable to decide whether to stay or to go.

In Exodus 14:12 they cry out their fear by admitting that freedom is scarier than slavery. כִּ֣י ט֥וֹב לָ֙נוּ֙ עֲבֹ֣ד אֶת־מִצְרַ֔יִם מִמֻּתֵ֖נוּ בַּמִּדְבָּֽר “It is better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert”. This fear is only human. We carry within us the mistrust and apprehension for anything new and unknown, anything unfamiliar and challenging.

The riches of Egypt are represented not only by the infamous melons and cucumbers which Jews are lamenting already after breaking free. This is material wealth but spiritual Egypt is no less dangerous. We all struggle with our inner Egyptians, be it complacency or fears, uncertainty, or the desire to live our lives most comfortably.

Fortunately, the Torah life is not about comfort. The demands of faith are such that we are constantly obliged to leave our comfort zone since only thus we can truly become free.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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