The success of the mind over the heart

We read in the Haggadah that there is a commandment to recount the story of Exodus from Egypt: “… All those who increase in telling the story of Passover are praiseworthy. And even if we are all wise people, people of understanding, and we know the entire Bible, it is a commandment to recount the story of Exodus.”

A couple of questions are in order.

There are many commandments in the Bible that one must observe, whether they are a Moses, a King Solomon, or just your average woodcutter. Obeying the commandments is a matter of deed, action, because what matters in this world is not so much what you have in your mind but what you do in practice. So, why would anyone think that a wise man or a learned man would be exempt from the commandment to recount the miracles of Exodus?

Another thing. When doing any other commandment, we do not find a preference to extend its observance. If you were to give charity in one minute or five minutes, the good deed is the same. Here, with our mitzvah, the book says that the more we talk about Exodus, the more we prolong its actual performance, and the better and the greater the value of the mitzvah. To plagiarize another set of questions: Why is this commandment different from other commandments in that the actual deed is recommended to be prolonged?

Spiritually and mystically, what is in the big world, we find its counterpart in the small world of every human being — Egypt represents the narrow passage between the head and the heart.

It is not easy getting the thoughts of our minds to affect the emotions of our hearts. There is a passage — the (bottle)neck — and it is narrow. Only a little bit of the mind filters down through the usual channels to the heart (in fact, the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, writes that it is only 10% of what is in mind). That is why, many times, people can understand in their mind one thing and yet, in their hearts, feel entirely differently. They encounter great difficulty (trapped in spiritual Egypt) trying to change the emotions of their heart, even when they know clearly in their minds that they should be feeling differently.

There is, however, the subconscious (in truth vaster than regular consciousness) that, when accessed, encounters no hindrances in reaching and affecting the emotions and feelings of the heart. Its power is limitless. This, and there, is the essence of spiritually — liberating oneself from Egypt, away from the limitations that restrain us.

Some people might argue that, after all, human beings are defined by the fact that they are intellectual, rational beings. “I have success influencing and controlling my emotions and desires with the sheer power of my wisdom and Intellect. I do not need anything deeper, wider, or higher than Intellect.” They say, “Intellect alone is enough. Mind over matter.”

Therefore, the Haggadah tells us that even if we were all wise, believing our lives to be under our (intellectual rational) control, there still is a need for us all to experience a going out of Egypt, of accessing this higher frequency within (miracles and the supra-natural). The proof is in the unusual requirement of the commandment itself, which tells us, “Whoever increases and stretches the telling of this miracle…” This unique command is for us to experience more freedom than the typical everyday bottleneck experience of life.

In most cases, when we serve and worship God, there is a finite requirement for the observance, and once met, the deed is fulfilled. However, in the case of liberating oneself from our limitations, the mitzvah (good deed) itself is of a limitless character. Going out of Egypt, freeing oneself from our constraints, becoming more than ourselves in life…this is an observance that demands a person to access the “infinite.”

Now we understand the meaning of the statement, “It was in the merit of faith that our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt.” To free oneself from any internal Egypt, it is necessary to access energy that surpasses the finite boundaries of logic. The mind must be left behind. Commitment, surrender, humility, and an appreciation for miracles are the traits that attach us to more. Only with faith can we become a genuinely liberated person and a free people.

The Passover story continues with the great sages who fulfilled all that was necessary for the evening and still went beyond and conversed all night about the great miracle of the Exodus.


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