We got out of Egypt… and now what?
Everybody thinks that God took us out of Egypt to give us the Torah at Mount Sinai. I don’t agree completely. Before you ask: “Rabbi, what’s wrong with you?” let me make it worse and ask you: Who really took the Jews out of Egypt? And yes, I had only four cups of wine, not four bottles!
Let’s review the text. When the Jews left Egypt, the Torah says: “Vayehi b’shalach Paro” (Exodus 13:17). Most translations don’t translate the true meaning of b’shalach ““ “sent” ““ but offer an interpretation, saying that Pharoah “let go.” Well, the root sh-l-ch means to send somebody with the purpose of fulfilling a mission.
We see this throughout the Torah. Jacob sends messengers to his brother Esau. The name of that section, Parashat Vayishlach, translates “vayishlach” as sending. The messengers have a mission: to appease Esau.
Later on Moses sends spies to tour the land and their mission was to come back with a report before the conquest. The name of the parasha? Shelach Lecha. “God said to Moses: Send men to scout the land.” (Numbers 13:2).
Even birds were sent: Noah “sent” ““ vay’shalach ““ the raven and the dove to learn if the flood waters had receded (Genesis 8:7-8).
So it is clear that Pharaoh didn’t “let go.” He “sent” the people.
So what was the mission on which they were sent?
The answer is in the Torah, of course. Exodus 12:31-32 quotes Pharaoh: “Up, depart from among my people…. Go, worship the Lord as you said…. And may you bring a blessing upon me also.”
We came out of Egypt to fulfill the mission bestowed upon us at the very beginning of our existence as a nation: to become a blessing for the world.
This is the second time we are reminded why God chose Abraham to create the Jewish people, and why God took us out of Egypt to give us the Torah, creating then the Jewish nation.
In Genesis 12:2-3 God says to Abraham: “I will bless you, I will make your name great and you shall be a blessing…. and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.”
We got out of Egypt, and now what? We count the days till we’ll receive the Torah to study it and to live according to its instructions. By doing that, we will develop the personality that will help us to become God’s partners, recreating His creation for the better.
We came out of Egypt and now, with deeds of loving-kindness, let us continue to labor for Tikun Olam. It is more than a mission. It is our obligation to our children and the generations to come.
May Hashem give us the strength and the courage to accomplish it.