Egypt and Our Old Ways
The first verse of this parsha starts off telling us that Pharoh was sending out the nation of Israel.
“It came to pass when Pharoh let the people go, that Hashem did not lead them [by] way of the land of the Plishtim (Philistines) for it was near, because Hashem said, Lest the people reconsider when they see war and return to Egypt.” (Exodus, 17:9)
The simple meaning is clear in that Hashem did not want our nation to get scared of the Plishtim and desire to return to Egypt. However, we find there is a deeper meaning to this pasuk.
The verse is actually hinting to us that when a person leaves the ways of Egypt, ie. His or her impurities and bad ways, there will always be a war that is near with other kinds of evil inclinations. Not only that but the verse is teaching us that when we see the war ahead of us, we should not get scared and turn back, we should not give up and falter back into the old ways.
Hashem has placed here a beautifully deep and invaluable secret. He is telling us that every time a we will try to come closer to purity and leave our old ways, we will always have battles that will remind us of our previous habits, of ‘Egypt,’ and make us want to go back (because of the fear of the battle.)
Rebbe Nachman tells us that when a person tries to come into the gates of holiness there will be many restraints in order to build a person’s will and desire to get closer.
The Gratitude Aspect
When we find ourselves in this battle of getting closer to Hashem, with spiritual hardships, even if we fall deeper in our old ways – we can use the power of gratitude to life us up and get closer to Hashem. When we thank Hashem, we transcend this world and lift ourselves up to a higher spiritual level.
There is an absolutely mind-blowing power that we obtain when thanking Hashem. We are given the ability to move mountain, shake the skies, and bring down miracles. When we step into the realm of gratitude and appreciation, we are given the unimaginable and once unattainable. We bring Hashem’s name into this world and glorify it with the most powerful radiant light, even when no one is around to hear it.