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05                                              of the maids, Bilhah and Zilpah, who entered the family as

                          A Message from our                     servants to Rachel and Leah. They did not act as brothers to
                                                                 them. This was evil in G-d’s view, and the Divine spirit cried
                                Assistant Rabbi                  out, ‘You are entirely beautiful, My beloved!’ G-d declared: What
                                                                 should I do, so that they will accept the children of the maids?
                                    Rabbi Ian Lichter            I will bring them down to Egypt, and all of them will be slaves.
                                                                 When I redeem them, I will give them the mitzvah of Pesach,
                                                                 for them, their children and their children’s children to per-
                                                                 form. All of them will say, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh’ - and so
                                                                 all of them will be equal.’” Rabbi Chanina attributes the slavery
                                                                 of Bnei Yisrael to the conduct of the children of Yaakov among
                                                                 themselves. G-d is pained by the corrupt relationship among
                                                                 the brothers, which is apparently due to their different social
                                                                 positions. As a response, G-d converts all of them into slaves,
                                                                 with the goal of leading them to say, “We were slaves” - all of
                                                                 us were slaves - all of us are equal.

                                                                 The Imrei Emet used another Midrash to describe the relation-
                                                                 ship among the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt. Moshe
                                                                 Rabbeinu left the palace, saw an Egyptian beating a Jew, and
       The fundamental mitzvah of the night of the Seder is to speak   killed the Egyptian in attempt to expedite our redemption. On
       of the Exodus from Egypt. The Mishna (Pesachim 10:4) tells   the following day, he saw two Jews fighting, and he attempted
       us how to recount the story: “Matchil B’Genut U’Messayeim   to rebuke them. One of them insulted Moshe for the way he
       B’Shevach” - “Begin with disgrace, and end with praise and   had saved the Jewish victim on the previous day, and Moshe
       glory.” The Maharal explains why we speak of the disgrace   said, “The matter is known.” The Midrash explains what “was
       of Bnei Yisrael, “[a]nd why begin with disgrace? The answer   known”: “Moshe thought in his heart, ‘What sin did Israel
       is because there cannot be true recognition of glory without   commit, to be the only nation to be enslaved?’ When he heard
       contrast.” Absent the disgraceful beginning informing us of   the man’s words he said, ‘They have harmful speech among
       the earlier reality, we could not understand and appreciate the   them! How will they deserve redemption?’ Therefore, he said,
       elevated state which came later.                          ‘The matter is known; now I know why they are enslaved.’”
                                                                 This interpretation suggests that because Bnei Yisrael did
       Rav and Shmuel debate (Pesachim 116): What is the disgrace   not improve their deeds even when they were in Egypt, so it
       which is supposed to begin our account of leaving Egypt?   became known to Moshe that they were still not worthy of
       “Rav says: In the beginning, our ancestors worshipped idols.   ending their slavery and becoming the nation of G-d.
       Shmuel counters: We were slaves in Egypt.” We are fully aware
       that worshipping idols is a grave disgrace. But what is the   From this discussion we see that “We were slaves” is a most
       great shame in having been a slave? Slavery is a low socioeco-  harsh disgrace, the disgrace of a bad relationship between
       nomic state, where the slave is considered his master’s prop-  the brothers to the point that they sold one of their own. This
       erty, and the master sets his schedule. Certainly, the Torah   disgrace is all the more powerful when we see that even in
       is not excited about slavery, but it recognizes the economic   Egypt, we did not improve our ways, despite the fact that this
       need which drives it - one who lacks the means of supporting   was the cause of our slavery. Thus, we recline at our Seder
       himself, or who cannot pay for his theft, may sell himself as   and speak of the disgrace of Bnei Yisrael - “We were slaves” -
       a slave. It appears that slavery is viewed as an extreme and   both historically and today. On this night, we are summoned
       undesirable solution for a person’s financial crisis. Slavery is   to examine ourselves, to right our wrongs and end the slavery,
       unpleasant and even embarrassing, but in what way is this   achieving the level of glory that comes from looking inward
       outcome of financial distress equivalent to the disgrace of   which will inevitably earn Klal Yisrael praise.
                                                                 Katie and I wish the entire community a Chag Kasher
       When departing for Egypt, Yaakov and his large family were in   V’sameach!
       good financial position - “Vayiknu et mikneihem v’et richush-
       am asher rachshu b’eretz Cana’an” - “They took their livestock   Rabbi Ian Lichter
       and wealth that they had amassed in the land of Cana’an”
       (Bereishit 46:6). Thus, their enslavement in Egypt was not a
       remedy for financial distress. The Otzar Midrashim explains
       the rationale for the slavery as follows. “Rabbi Chanina said:
       Because all of the traits of G-d are conducted measure for
       measure. In the beginning, before they descended to Egypt,
       the sons of the matriarchs, Leah and Rachel, insulted the sons

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