Updated: Apr 14
“In every generation one must look at himself as if he personally had gone out of Egypt”. -Pesachim 116b
On Passover we celebrate our escape from Egypt some 3,300 years ago. The Haggadah tells us that “ If G-D had not taken us out of Egypt, then we would still be slaves there now.” Passover is a holiday rife with symbolic traditions that commemorate different aspects and miracles of our escape.
There is the Maror (bitter herbs), Charoset, and Karpas dipped in saltwater that we eat reminding us of harsh labor, the bricks that the Jews labored to produce, and the salty tears they shed. There is also the Matzah, the unleavened bread, which reminds us of how the Jews left Egypt in such haste that their bread did not have time to rise.
Although all this helps us experience the exodus from Egypt, it is set in an atmosphere of holiday spirit, in a relaxed, warm environment surrounded by family and guests. This atmosphere does not quite resemble the atmosphere of pressure and haste that surrounded and accompanied our ancestors, the ancient Jews, in their escape.
Escape Room is More Similar?
Few forms of entertainment resemble exodus from Egypt more than our medium at Peddlers and Parchments escape rooms in Brooklyn. Quite simply, in an escape room the goal is to escape, which lines up with escaping Egypt! However, the similarities do not end there. The pressure of time in an escape room also helps us feel what the Israelites experienced when they left Egypt so quickly that their dough did not even have time to rise. The group experience of an escape room parallels the entire nation escaping slavery together.
Before the ancient Israelites escaped, G-D unleashed 10 plagues upon the Egyptians. Going deeper into the meaning behind the plagues, we learn that each plague was a necessary step in the escape, for they transformed the impurity that the Egyptians had infused into their actual environment. This is brought to mind through the experience of solving puzzle after puzzle in an escape room, each completed one bringing you a step closer to finally escaping.
A Passover Escape Room
This escape experience was brilliantly combined with the actual Passover experience in a Pop-Up Passover Escape Room Kit. Its creation was directed by Rabbi Zalman Lowenthal, director of Ckids, and developed by Mrs. Freidy Zippel.
The Kit has been used by close to 200 Chabad Houses to make the Passover experience real! We got in touch with Rabbi Lowenthal, to find out a little bit more about their unique room.
He explained that the inspiration to create such an escape room was it's connection to escaping Egypt. The escape room has a lot to do with the Passover Seder and Rabbi Lowenthal explained that the fusion of the different parts of the Seder with the puzzles, magnified the players' sense of escaping from Egypt.
At Peddlers and Parchments, we have something of a paradox taking place. Although the ultimate goal is to escape our rooms, we also invite the players deeper into the mystery and heritage of the tzaddikim (the sages), helping one identify with the uniqueness of the Jewish leaders.
Your focus is on trying to find the ultimate treasure, rather than the final escape. The games are designed to facilitate personal learning and growth, going deeper into yourself, your heritage, and your inborn talents and strengths as opposed to the escape ordeal where you are trying to get out from where you are now!
Yet, in fact, this paradox more acutely describes what happened all those years ago when our ancestors escaped Egypt. They were also, at that same time, in a process of growth. They had to find their sense of identity, trust, and open themselves up to freedom. Even in their haste to escape, they had the presence of mind to remember about Joseph and take his remains with them as he had instructed them earlier.
Perhaps an even greater show of their personal growth was the Pascal Sacrifice. G-D commanded them to sacrifice a lamb. The lamb was sacred to the Egyptians, so it required a great deal of faith and courage for the Jews to carry this out. This transcendence of their environment was integral to their escape.
Those Jews who could not open themselves up to the idea of freedom, and therefore did not want to leave Egypt, unfortunately passed away during this plague and remained buried in Egypt. This teaches us that escaping the boundaries of our own personal Egypt must be accompanied by growing and transcending ourselves and our unhealthy boundaries, habits, and thoughts that keep us locked up and stagnant. The fusion of escape accompanied and accomplished through growth is expressed at Peddlers and Parchments. We delight in the opportunity to help others find the harmony in this seeming paradox! Please visit us to discover it for yourself!