I didn’t know what to expect from my family’s trip to The Great Escape Room, other than that I would give up soon after I started. I do not perform well under pressure. Why are these rooms popping up in cities all over the globe, a sign that there’s something universally fun about spending an hour in a room trying to find clues, solve puzzles, and escape?
The answer in a word? Adrenaline. In the days that followed our outing, I kept reliving the thrill I felt as we solved each puzzle.
Every experience–even a recreational one–is an opportunity to learn a spiritual lesson. I quickly realized The Great Escape Room was a parable for life, at least my life, in the days before the arrival of Moshiach.
Here are five reasons why:
- Time is of the essence. Solving the room’s puzzles in an hour meant focusing only on the clues that mattered. This singularity of focus is also the fastest way to redeem the Jewish people, and the entire world, from this long and painful exile. The Lubavitcher Rebbe assured everyone that the Redemption is imminent, so the more we act in a G-dly way now, with enthusiasm, the faster it comes. Questions like, “what’s taking so long?” or, “why is it so difficult?” aren’t relevant to our mission right now: Learning Torah and doing mitzvos are what move the Redemption forward. Period. (It’s worth pondering the uniqueness of the mitzvos we do in these days leading up to Moshiach’s revelation; they’re our final opportunity to serve G-d in a world where He is hidden.)
- Work with collaborators, smile at sideliners. The room contained too many puzzles, too many problems, and too many people for anyone to insist on working alone. Once we had the answers, it was hard to remember who did what. And it didn’t matter. Everyone’s input moved the job along. Well, almost. A few people preferred sitting on the side of the room. Spiritually speaking, there are those who sit on the side of the room, too, each with their reasons why the concept of Moshiach doesn’t resonate with them. But at least they’re in the room, and when it’s time to “escape,” they’ll be as thrilled to leave as anyone.
- Trust that there’s an answer. We trusted that the creators of The Great Escape Room had an absolutely correct answer for each puzzle. The only way to win was to try different tactics until we solved them all. Similarly, I trust that G-d’s perfect clues for solving the mysteries of the world are in the Torah, although they can be challenging to decipher. Nonetheless, I stick with the clues, trusting that the answers to our puzzling questions will add up seamlessly when Moshiach comes. Knowing that Moshiach is G-d’s ultimate answer makes every effort meaningful and worthwhile.
- Are we missing a vital clue? Our game monitors told us where not to look for clues (in a certain corner, on the ceiling). They told us exactly how many clues each puzzle needed in order to solve it. We tried different ways to solve one particular puzzle, then realized a clue was missing. But without that clue, we were just guessing; the chances of our solving the puzzle were infinitesimal. In global terms, isn’t it time we acknowledge that we need G-d’s help in solving the world’s problems?
- Victory is sweet. I was in charge of the group that solved the first puzzle. We screamed in euphoria when we finally combined the right numbers to open the locked box. This was the feeling I kept replaying in the days that followed–satisfaction, excitement, relief. It was a tiny taste of the joy we will all feel when Moshiach comes, when everything in creation will add up, just like those numbers. And just like those numbers added up for everyone, Moshiach will come for everyone. What will be different for everyone is the satisfaction of having been involved in making it happen. The victorious thrill I enjoyed in The Great Escape Room may have been only a tiny taste of the Redemption, but the taste stays with me, adding to my hunger for the real thing.