Shabbat Parashat Acharei Mot 5774
Parashat Hashavua: Servitude after Liberation?
Harav Avraham Yitzchak Kook – based on Olat Re’iya on the Haggada
“We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and Hashem our G-d took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. And had the Holy One Blessed Be He not taken our forefathers out from Egypt, indeed we, and our children, and our children’s children would be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt” (Haggada shel Pesach).@@
In beginning to tell of the great kindness and goodness that Hashem did with us when He took us out of Egypt, the Haggada explains how our lot was switched from the extreme of badness to great goodness. For there are three types of slaves: 1) A slave to his own king; 2) A slave to a foreign king but still in his own land, e.g., when a foreign king captures the slave’s land. This is better than being a slave to a foreign king in a foreign land; 3) A slave in exile in a foreign land. The Haggada tells us that we were in the worst situation –we were slaves, to Pharaoh, a wicked and cruel king, in Egypt, a foreign and impure land.
Hashem changed all of this for the good. We went from being slaves to being sons of our King, which is the opposite of the type of slaves we had been. We were taken out by Hashem, who is the opposite of a foreign king, and thus our relationship was one of princes, sons to their father, the king. Finally it was “from Egypt,” as Hashem took us out of the impure land.
Furthermore, he did not take us out in a natural way, but rather by hitting Pharaoh with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. This is another way of saying that there were clear miracles, which enabled us to be elevated in the eyes of the nations.
Why did Hashem have to “go to the trouble” of taking us out of Egypt? Couldn’t we have gained freedom in Egypt, conquered it, and made it our land? The answer is that this would not have been appropriate because Egypt is an impure land which does not befit us. The Haggada goes on to say that even if [we would have been freed but] we had not been taken out of Egypt, we, and our children, and their children would still be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. Had we stayed there as a free nation, we would still have been enslaved to Egypt, in a manner of speaking, as that land, which is not appropriate for us would have impacted us with its impurity and the strengthening of the klipot (evil spiritual forces). If so, Pharaoh would have overpowered us spiritually. Therefore, Hashem took us out so that we would be fit to receive the Torah and all elements of sanctity.
That is why children and children’s children are stressed. It is a hint at the inability to receive the Torah with its impact on all generations. The connection is based on the gemara in Bava Metzia that says that when a talmid chacham is followed by another two generations of talmidei chachamim, there is a situation where the Torah lives naturally within this family and the crown of Torah will be in their possession. This would not have happened had we stayed in Egypt, and therefore we must be extra happy and thankful that we merited the miracle of the Exodus, which enabled us to receive the Torah, the special present of sanctity.
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