Shavuot is the holiday on which we celebrate the giving of the Torah, when G-d Himself descended on Mount Sinai before the entire Jewish people. The world stood still as G-d’s voice thundered the first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the L-rd your G-d, Who took you out of the land of Egypt.”
Our Sages ask a pointed question: What was so special about the exodus from Egypt that G-d chose to mention it in the very first Commandment? Why not “I am the L-rd your G-d, Who created heaven and earth”? Is not the creation of the world more fundamental than an isolated historical incident involving only a few million people?
In addition, the exodus from Egypt – although a great miracle – involved only that generation. The existence of the physical world, however, is a phenomenon which each generation can point to as evidence of G-d’s greatness. Why then did G-d give the exodus such prominence at the moment of His revelation to mankind?
Chasidic philosophy explains that in certain respects, the Jewish people’s liberation from bondage in Egypt was an even greater event than the creation of the world. G-d created the world ex nihilo – substance out of nothingness – something which we, as created beings, cannot comprehend. Although the creation of the world was a wondrous event, for an all-powerful, eternal and infinite G-d, it was no particular feat.
Furthermore, the Torah states that the world was created by G-d’s speech. “By the word of G-d the heavens were created, and by His breath all of their hosts.” Speech is an external power, produced without exertion. The world was created in such a way as to express only the outermost fraction of G-d’s true might.
The exodus from Egypt, however, was a miracle of a totally different order. In order for the Jews to leave Egypt, G-d had to supersede the laws of nature He had already created to run the world. G-d Himself, not an angel, led the Jews as they departed. Abrogating natural law to free the Children of Israel involved an even higher level of Divine intervention than creating the world in the first place! The exodus from Egypt was therefore given the top billing it deserved in the Ten Commandments.
Likewise, in our own lives, we sometimes find that it is harder to change ingrained and established habits than it is to begin a completely new undertaking. When G-d took our ancestors out of Egypt (Mitzrayim), He gave each and every Jew the strength to break through the boundaries and limitations (metzarim) which stand in his way. This innate power, bestowed upon the Jewish people when the Torah was revealed, gives us the ability to overcome any negative habits or character traits which prevent us from serving G-d with a full heart. Moshiach NOW!!!