Lessons from The Philly Escape Room

I didnt know what to expect from my family's trip to The Philly Escape Room,other than that I was sure I would give up soon after I started

I didn’t know what to expect from my family’s trip to The Philly Escape Room, other than that I was sure I would give up soon after I started. I do not perform well under pressure and typically don’t enjoy it. But before I knew what hit me, I was in a room no bigger than the average dining room, and I was transformed into a do-or-die Sherlock Holmes, rushing around to find clues and solve puzzles within the hour.

Why has this form of entertainment become so popular in cities everywhere? The answer, in a word, is adrenaline. We left The Philly Escape Room a while ago, but now, any time I feel like it, I can recreate the rush I felt as we solved each of the four puzzles. It’s a feeling I could easily get used to.

I quickly realized that The Philly Escape Room was a good parable for my G‑dly service on a number of levels.

Here’s how:

1. Time is of the essence.

Solving all the puzzles in an hour meant focusing only on the clues that mattered. This singularity of focus is also my optimal mode for functioning as a Jew. The more I act in a G‑dly way now, with enthusiasm, the more it shows my eagerness for Moshiach to come now. Questions like “What’s taking so long?” or “Why is it so difficult?” aren’t relevant to my mission right now. Learning Torah and doing mitzvahs are what move the Redemption forward, period.

2. Work with collaborators; smile at sideliners.

The room contained too many puzzles, too many problems and too many people for anyone to work alone. Once we had answers to the puzzles, it was hard to remember who had done what. And it didn’t matter; we were all thrilled. And everyone’s input helped. Well, almost. A few people preferred to sit at the side of the room and watch.

Spiritually speaking, there are Jews who sit on the sidelines, too. And it’s important for me to remember that I can’t convince other Jews to participate in Torah life. The best way to attract others is for them to see me enjoying the game, i.e., serving G‑d with joy.

3. Trust that there’s an answer.

We trusted that the creators of The Philly Escape Room had answers for all the puzzles. There were no mistakes. We just had to keep trying until we figured everything out. Similarly, I trust that G‑d’s perfect clues for solving all the mysteries of the world are in the Torah. His clues may be challenging to decipher sometimes; nonetheless, I am confident that G‑d created the entire world, and my specific world, with intention. Just like the Escape Room’s monitors shared a few hints, G‑d also intervenes to help me find answers.

4. Am I missing a clue?

At the outset, our game monitors told us where not to look for clues (in a certain corner, on the ceiling) and exactly how many were required to solve each puzzle. There was one puzzle that we tried many different ways to solve before realizing that we were missing a clue. It was just one clue, but without it, we were just guessing, and the chances of our solving the puzzle were infinitesimal. G‑d is the vital clue in my life that makes everything add up.

5. Victory tastes 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 all will 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. The victorious thrill I enjoyed in The Philly 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.