5 In distress I called on Hashem; Hashem answered me and brought me relief.
min ha-may-TZAR ka-RA-tee YAH a-NA-nee va-mer-KHAV YAH
ה מִן־הַמֵּצַר קָרָאתִי יָּהּ עָנָנִי בַמֶּרְחָב יָהּ׃
118:5 In distress I called on Hashem
Psalm 118 is recited towards the end of the Pesach seder, and uses a word that is central to the themes of Pesach: ‘Maytzar’ (מצר), meaning ‘straits’ or ‘distress.’ This word is closely related to the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim (מצרים). On an emotional level, Egypt symbolizes the agonizing straits that constrict us. Each of us occasionally finds ourselves trapped. Sometimes this happens due to physical causes like poverty or illness, and sometimes for psychological reasons, such as depression or anxiety. Pesach is the festival of freedom and faith, teaching that the Almighty saves all from each of life’s narrow confines. As the psalmist notes, “In distress I called on Hashem; Hashem answered me and brought me relief.”