Why Are We Leaving?

Teves 20, 5783
January 13, 2023
Candlelighting Time 4:39 PM

The exodus of the nation from Egypt was certainly a pivotal juncture in our history. A nation enslaved for generations suddenly marches out of captivity as their masters’ empire disintegrates beset by a series of plagues unknown to man. At the helm is Moshe, later described in the Torah as the most humble person on the planet. He wasn’t a great orator, Ahron his brother spoke for him when he approached Pharaoh to demand the release of his people. He was not politically driven as we know he declined to assume leadership of the nation initially. He was not a military strategist planning how to defeat the enemy, the Egyptians. The reward for leaving slavery was to go out to the desert, not a very enticing incentive. Yet, he performed a variety of miracles that even the best of Pharaoh’s magicians could not match. The nation did not believe in him when he first announced that they were poised to escape their difficult situation at the hands of Pharaoh. Yet, he persevered and led them out of their confinement. What was the objective of this entire episode? Was it simply to fulfill the promise to Avrohom that eventually his grandchildren would be extricated from their exile? It is reasonable to postulate that Hashem could have ‘snapped his fingers’ and annihilated the Egyptians and we would have quite easily slipped out of Egypt. Did we need ten awesome miracles and a splitting of the sea to escort us? 

Of course, this was all necessary as we gained an innate perception and appreciation for all that was done for us. Furthermore, we gained an immutable faith and irrevocable devotion and loyalty to Hashem. These events would stand out in our historic legacy for all generations and we would cherish discussing them with our descendants for many years to come. The incomparable accomplishments of Moshe would be his shining heritage for all time! We would express unmatchable belief in Moshe after we had witnessed what he had wrought during his reign of terror in Egypt as he slowly but surely dismantled the most powerful military establishment and advanced civilization of its time.  

Yet Maimonides explains that if we believe in a prophet only due to his ‘bag of tricks’ so to speak, then we lack depth in our acceptance of that individual. Didn’t we endorse Moshe because of all the miraculous plagues that he visited upon our Egyptian taskmasters? So, what more could have been done to bolster our credence in Moshe?

The answer is that our exodus from Egypt was consummated with our receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. That was our true goal and again it was achieved through Moshe. However, there was an additional caveat with our acceptance of the Torah at that time. An incredible event transpired unknown to man previously. Hashem spoke to Moshe in an intimate fashion, a mere mortal. Also, the entire nation was infused with the power of prophetic vision so that they could actually observe the exchange between Moshe and Hashem. Now, at that time their appreciation for Moshe increased not only manifold in a qualitative manner, but also now there was a recognition of whom Moshe was. A prophet unlike any other that ever was or will be. Meshech Chochmah proposed that in order to fortify our eternal trust in Moshe and the Torah that he brought us, we must assert that Moshe had attained such a high level of service to Hashem that he was stripped of his free will. He had utilized his potential to its fullest and therefore, cognizance of that level of perfection and its ensuing result, conveying the Torah to the people in a pristine fashion that would last for all time, necessitated that he should be elevated to a pedestal of importance and significance that would entail that our conviction and belief in him would be absolute and unequivocal. 


Although the arm of Pharaoh’s daughter was not able to reach the raft in which Moshe had been placed, nonetheless she made the effort to save him and her arm miraculously stretched out. Even when we don’t understand how Hashem’s salvation will take place, we must always make our supreme attempt realizing that if we merit Hashem’s assistance it will be forthcoming.