If we count our blessings, here we find 15 reasons for being grateful.
1. He brought us out of Egypt. Obviously our first gratitude is for the fact that we are no longer trapped, enslaved to substances and habits. There could beno growth so long as we were in Egypt.
2. It does not say He judged them, rather, He did judgments among them. The word "did," asa, refers to the most tangible form of creativity, the ultimateunfolding of Hashem's (God's) plans. Hashem is not judgmental simply for its own sake. His judgments are very creative. He did it for us, in order to show us thenature of our addiction and the power of the lie in which we lived. Hashem exposed both the Egyptians and their gods.
3. He "did" their gods. The creativity we refer to is undoubtedly the humor and playfulness in the humiliation of the Egyptian gods.
4. He killed their firstborn. This is the culmination of the first lesson. Slavery means death. Addiction means death. The worship of un-gods means death.Let this be clear and unequivocal.
5. He gave us their money. It does not say gave us their wealth, rather their money. The dollar, a medium of exchange, is a piece of green paper of littlevalue. But it represents agreement amongst people to maintain a monetary system and all the cultural ramifications it carries. For the system to be successful,a stable balance of forces must exist in the marketplace.
The whole structure of economics that worked so well for the Egyptians now came to work for us. It was a sane, peaceful, rewarding system. The wordchosen here to describe money, mammon, is unusual in this context. One might have expected the word keseph, silver, to be used. Mammon does not appearin the story of the Exodus, whereas keseph, silver, is mentioned often. We did not have to go through the hardship of developing our own through scarciity and hardship and want. We didn't need any more upheavals in our lives concerning mundane things. Poverty makes recovery difficult. We had enough on our hands without skyrocketing inflation and a forced return to the barter system.
6. He split the sea for us. We might have had to fight a pitched battle with them the way we did weeks later with the Amalekites. The Egyptians might havefound themselves drawn away to fight elsewhere against marauders, or any number of other possibilities. Instead we were taught to surrender and turn ourwill over to Hashem. That was good for us.
8. He drowned our oppressors in it. Apparently it was very important to us to see the Egyptians destroyed. Perhaps we were afraid that so long as theycould chase us, they were incapable of letting go, and we would have to battle endlessly with them. Perhaps we ourselves could never let go until we saw them utterly defeated. Whatever the reason, Hashem did drown them all in the sea.
9. He took care of our needs. Forty years in the wilderness. Protected us from sun and wind, snow and rain, snakes and scorpions. We were surrounded by"Clouds of Glory" and never really lacked material things. We had our needs met.
10. He fed us manna. This was not just food. This was an entirely new creation. A whole new species of long molecule, this was not some growth or desertcacti. The manna gave a whole new meaning to the phrase "living by the word of Hashem."
11. He gave us the Shabbos. Shabbos is priceless. It is not a "Sabbath," or day of rest. Only those who live it know what it feels like. To describe it isfruitless. A marble statue has as much resemblance to a real person as the common notion has to the true meaning of Shabbos. It is the pearl of Hashem'streasury.
12. He brought us close to Mount Sinai. This in itself was an enormous step for us. We became willing to have all our defects of character removed. Wewere willing to go to any lengths to do Hashem's will. We were entirely ready. What higher spiritual peaks could we possibly have aimed for? We weren'tjust present at Mount Sinai, we were close.
13. He gave us the Torah. Not merely a jewel out of His treasury, Hashem gave us the whole treasury.
14. He entered us into the Land of Israel.
15. Built us the "Chosen House" (Temple) to atone for our sins. Who mentioned sins? Sin is implicit in the way we are. We aren't angels. We aren'texpected to get it right the first time or even the second time. We are going to keep failing. What matters is progress, not perfection. The Hebrew wordschosen here to mean Temple are Bais Habechira, literally translated as "House of Choice." An allusion to the end product of the Exodus.
We are no longerslaves because we have a choice. The real distinction between the using addict and the recovering addict is the power of choice. And so our gratitude listends with thanks for the gift of what is more commonly referred to as free will, freedom to choose.