VOLUME 104 NUMBER 2
Teves 27, 5783
January 20, 2023
Candlelighting Time 4:47 PM
Originally when Moshe questioned Hashem about the merit of the nation to be rescued from Egypt, the answer given was that they would receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Seemingly, the fundamental rationale for leaving bondage was to accept the Torah and become the nation of Hashem. However, when Moshe was charged with the mission to approach Pharaoh and demand their release he informed him that the people are the first-born son of Hashem. Just as a parent dotes on their child and desires only the best for them, so too, Hashem took us out of Egypt because we are dear to him. There seems to be conflicting reasons for the exodus!
Sforno explains that although eventually all mankind will recognize Hashem and serve Him as we do, nonetheless we have a special status. Just as the first-born is remarkable, Hashem also views us as noteworthy and noble. Additionally, our relationship with Hashem is as a son who loves his father. We do the mitzvos and learn Torah due to our love for Hashem rather than being compelled to do so. And that love was apparent when we were still in Egypt and was the raison d’etre for Hashem extricating us from Pharaoh’s slavery. And we responded in kind at Mt. Sinai and declared that we will do and obey the Torah.
Rashi adds that when Hashem referred to us as His first-born son, it was essentially confirming the sale of the first-born rights to Yaakov from Eisav. The recognition of that sale further adds to our solid relationship with Hashem and serves as an impetus to spur us on to realize the value of performing mitzvos and studying Torah at a level that far surpasses any other nation on the planet.
In this week’s parsha apparently another motive is mentioned as to understanding our exodus from bondage. Moshe and Ahron approach Pharaoh and state that we must leave Egypt, going into the desert to offer sacrifices to Hashem. There is no indication of returning to serve Pharaoh after that hiatus. In other words, this would be a fail-safe expedition and departure from our slavery in Egypt. How can we merge these varying concepts into one cohesive theme?
We were saved from Egyptian bondage because Hashem Himself rested His Divine Presence upon us and that actually led us to liberation. Egypt, the epitome of impurity and contamination had impacted our nation in a severely damaging fashion. As our Sages teach us, the people had descended into the 49th level of impurity and their rescue from there was imperative and urgent. That Divine Presence which rested upon us there was the very same presence that we merited when we accepted the Torah at Mt. Sinai. And that truly captures the essence of our departure. We left as Hashem’s Divine Presence whisked us out to safety, projecting us into a new trajectory of opportunity and potential.
And that clearly captures the message that Moshe and Ahron were delivering to Pharaoh that we needed to leave Egypt and offer sacrifices to Hashem. That service displayed our dedication and commitment to Hashem. Essentially, we were establishing a virtual Beis Hamikdash in the desert, a repository for Hashem’s presence, the true catapult of our freedom from Egyptian captivity.
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
Although Moshe was the most humble person he still was able to protest the seemingly ongoing cruel treatment of the nation without an end in sight. That led to Hashem’s castigation that Moshe needed to have a better perspective comparable to that of the earlier generations. Moshe’s pure empathy and sensitivity gave him the ability to make that claim albeit somewhat bold.