VOLUME 104 NUMBER 3
Shevat 5, 5783
January 27, 2023
Candlelighting Time 4:55 PM
The Egyptian empire had been devastated and their nation couldn’t wait until we would leave and they could recoup from all of their losses. However, before we could leave, we were commanded to take from the Egyptians gold, silver and their various belongings. Rashi cites the Talmud that Hashem requested that we should honor this command and indeed take from the Egyptians their possessions. Because if we didn’t, then Avrohom would have complained to Hashem that part of the pact made between him and Hashem that we would eventually suffer at the hands of others was fulfilled. However, the other part of the clause that we would depart with riches was not satisfied. Was is that necessary to take with us Egyptian possessions that we needed to delay our exodus from that brutal kingdom? And if we were commanded to do so, why did Hashem request that we should take their wealth so that Avrohom wouldn’t complain?
Chasam Sofer offers a beautiful explanation of this topic. Ran, an early commentator cites the Midrash that when the people were commanded to remain and take the Egyptian possessions they were dismayed. It is analogous to a prisoner who is informed of his impending release from jail. However, his discharge will be delayed until the next day when he will receive a monetary stipend to celebrate his liberation. Of course, he would rather leave today and forfeit the money instead of waiting until tomorrow. Therefore, the nation was impatient and unwilling to delay their departure. However, why indeed was it so important for the people to leave only after ‘borrowing’ their neighbors’ belongings. The Zohar states that Yosef made a special effort to collect all the money during the famine because there were sparks of holiness spread out in the Egyptian landscape and they needed to be gathered and taken to the Land of Israel. When the people plundered the Egyptian wealth they were essentially amputating those sparks from Egypt and transporting them to Israel. It was vital that they accomplish this mission. However, they were unwilling to delay their freedom. Even though Hashem could have coerced them to remain longer, that would have mitigated the accomplishment of this mitzvah because it would not have been performed with their cooperative involvement. Therefore, Hashem beseeched them to comply willingly with His command for their benefit.
Although Pharaoh was induced to retain the nation for the entire 10 plague interlude of time, to have applied pressure to the people to remain would have been an affront to Avrohom who was a righteous individual and that would have been considered a breach in the pact made with him. Therefore, He appealed to our innate desire to serve appropriately and did not force the issue.
It is important to understand the underlying theme that is presented. And that is when we have an opportunity to perform a mitzvah of any sort, we should always seize that prospect and willingly achieve that goal. Even though in the final analysis the action may be viewed as identical, nonetheless, our thoughts that are wholesome are imperative in upgrading whatever we do!
A BYTE FOR SHABBOS
The Torah states that the entire core of the nation left Egypt. Our bondage was not only physical but additionally spiritual because our spirits were at low ebb during our slavery and they were released as well into freedom.