The Biblical Lessons of Slavery and Freedom

Haggadah Section: -- Cup #2 & Dayenu

The Exodus gave us our freedom. It also taught us our ethics, our theology, our philosophy. How many commandments in the Torah are rooted in our experience of slavery and freedom?

I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods besides Me. (Exodus 20:1)

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers In the land of Egypt. You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan. (Exodus 22:20)

When you see the animal of your enemy lying under its burden and would refrain from raising it, you must nev- ertheless raise it with him. You shall not subvert the rights of your needy in their disputes ... You shall not op- press a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23: 5)

When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I the Lord am your God. (Leviticus 19:33)

If your kinsman becomes poor and his means fail, then you shall uphold him. Let him live by your side: do not exact from him advance or accrued interest, but fear your God. Let him live by your side as your kinsman. Do not lend him money at advance interest or give him your food at accrued interest. I the Lord am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan; to be your God. (Leviticus 25:35)

Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God; you shall not do any work — you, your son or your daughter, your male or female servant, your ox or your ass, or any of your cattle, or the stranger in your settlements so that your male and female servant may rest as you do. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deut.5:12-15)

You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever be pleases; you must not ill-treat him. (Deuteronomy 23:16)

You shall not subvert the rights of the stranger or the fatherless; you shall not take a widow's garment in pawn. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and that the Lord, your God redeemed you from there; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment. (Deuteronomy 24:17)

When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field do not turn back to get it; it shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow -- in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat down the fruit of your olive trees, do not go over them again; this shall go to the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not pick it over again; that shall go to the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. Always remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment. (Deuteronomy 24:19-22) 

Source:  
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