By Rabbi Nussbaum
January 8, 2021
TEVES 24, 5780
Candlelighting Time 4:35 PM

         Moshe rebuked two of his countrymen for fighting and they responded that are you going to kill us like you killed the Egyptian? They were alluding to the incident where Moshe had killed an Egyptian who was beating a member of our nation and therefore Moshe assumed that they had informed the authorities about his actions. Indeed, they tried to execute Moshe, but he escaped. Nonetheless, it was clear that there were those amongst the nation who were informing upon others. It signaled to Moshe that our nation deserved to be enslaved by the Egyptians due to our inappropriate behavior, specifically, slandering others as in this situation. Our speech was not clean and therefore our conduct was not exemplary.

            However, when Avrohom received a prophecy from Hashem by the covenant involving the pieces of different animals when the torch passed through, he was told that his descendants would need to be enslaved by another country.  It seems as though the future enslavement in Egypt was already predicted and set from the times of Avrohom! Indeed, our subjugation in Egypt was a necessary precursor to our entitlement to eventually settle in the Land of Israel.

            S’fas Emes has a fascinating explanation of this issue. He maintains that the primary exile that we experienced was that of our inability to express ourselves to Hashem. Of course, we endured tremendous brutality at the hands of our captors, however, that was a vehicle to suppress our relationship with Hashem which is realized through davening and enhanced when we can articulate our innermost feelings and needs to Hashem. That dominance of our spirit which was realized in Egypt required that we overcome that obstacle and negate those forces which attempted to dictate our conduct so powerfully that we could not envision the freedom of serving Hashem. We valiantly rose to the occasion and cried out to Hashem to save us from the tyranny that engulfed us and Hashem heard our voices of desperation and remembered the promise He had made to extricate us from our terrible predicament. As we reconstructed our relationship with Hashem our desire to improve our demeanor was also enriched. Kli Yakar cites the Midrash that in the merit of our caution not to speak ill of others, Hashem liberated us from our Egyptian bondage.

         S’fas Emes adds that upon our departure from slavery, we sang the famous song when we witnessed the splitting of the sea. Our recognition of Hashem’s intercession on our behalf was the zenith of our reconstitution of the power of speech used to its fullest and most stimulating enactment.

         Additionally, our salvation came about through the power of speech which was utilized by Moshe and reinforced by Ahron as they continuously approached Pharaoh and demanded his release of the nation. Words were consistently and constantly used to promote Hashem’s will that we should leave Egypt and serve Him in the desert.

            The strength that was asserted as we voiced our anguish to Hashem was the ultimate conduit for our deliverance from Egyptian oppression.


One can always draw near to Hashem taking care to avoid barriers that would frustrate the relationship.