In this week's Parsha, Vaeschanan, we read how Hashem took for Himself "a nation from within a nation". The Jewish people from within the Egyptians. Moshe is expressing how this only happened for us. Never has one nation been taken out from within another, aside for the Jewish people from Egypt.
Why is this detail important for us to know? What lesson can we take from here for our personal lives?
Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which is from the word maytzar, constraint or limitations. When Hashem took us out of Egypt, He removed us from all constraints, physical, psychological and spiritual. When we cleave to Hashem and His Torah we are open and free. The only constraints we have are the ones we accept upon ourselves.
In every situation we have the ability to be free. Even in this dark exile, where the world seems against us. Even in our personal lives, as each of us has difficulties, suffering, and pain.
It is our choices that express our free nature, not our predicaments. In every situation we find a way to free our essence, our Jewishness.
Today this seems harder than ever, as there is great temptation to be like "them" (non-Jews). But we have been there before, and if you try, Hashem will surely help you free yourself from your Egypt.
On a more subtle level, those who's Jewish observance is because he wants to be like "them" (other Jews), needs to ask if they are proper role models. Are they stuck in a religious Egypt? Does their fervor turn them to dislike those who don't share their convictions? This is not a free person, he also needs to free himself from his false religious notions. For his way is also not "Jewish".
On a deeper level. Each of us have the ability to free ourselves from our current levels and reach higher plateaus. Yesterday's freedom is today's Egypt. If you are not growing you are not free. If you could ask yourself: How can I improve myself? How can I get closer to Hashem? Then you are free.
Finally, realize, that to get closer to Hashem, you need to love his children, and see them as "us", not "them", including those you deem less observant or more observant.
Loving each other is the key to our redemption, it is how we break the chains of this exile. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult, nevertheless, we will overcome this as well. May it happen soon.
Dedicated to Rabbi Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin, who despite his physical constraints, remains free and an example to all of us. May he be taken out of his Egypt immediately.