The Exodus In Detail
Jews are a people of memory. Perhaps more than anything else, what binds Jews together is a shared narrative, preserved and passed along through stories, teachings and rituals.
In the days before the destruction of the Second Temple, families gathered together at the Temple in Jerusalem, presented their offerings, and shared in the paschal feast. After the destruction of the Temple, these practices ended, and the Passover ceremony changed to one that took place in the home. We now incorporate symbolic elements which reflect the offerings and rituals that took place long ago. These remind us that it is our obligation to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Our ancestors were wandering Arameans. We began as wanderers, without a home. Again and yet again, we have been wanderers, fugitives, refugees.
Long ago, our ancestors worshipped idols. Now the Eternal is our God. As the Torah says: "In days of old your ancestors lived beyond the River Euphrates, and they served other gods. Then the Eternal took our forefather Abraham from beyond the River, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and increased his family, and gave him as son, Isaac. And God gave unto Isaac his sons Jacob and Esau. The Eternal gave unto Esau Mount Seir as a possession, but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt." (Joshua 24: 2-4)
This promise made to our ancestors holds true for us as well. For more than once our foes have risen against us to destory us; in every generation they rise against us and seek our destruction. But the Holy One, Barukh Hu, saves us from their hands.
Our story begins with degredation; our telling ends with glory.
But Jacob went down to Egypt and dwelled there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation. (Deuteronomy 26,5). This teaches that he did not go to live there permanently, but only for a short while, as it is written: "They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for our flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let us live in the land of Goshen.”" (Genesis 47:4).
Few in number--as it is written: "Our ancestors went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Eternal your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven" (Deuteronomy 10:22).
And he became there a nation--this teaches that Israel was a distinct nation within the land of Egypt.
Great and mighty-- as it is written: "And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them" (Exodus 1:7).
And numerous--as it is written: "I have increased you as the growth of the field, and you have become numerous and grown big." (Ezekiel 16,7).
And the Egyptians did evil unto us--as it is written: "Come, let us deal craftily with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will join themselves to our enemies and fight against us." (Exodus 1:10).
And afflicted us--as it is written: "So the Egyptians set over them taskmasters to oppress them with burdens. And they built Pithom and Raamses as store cities for Pharoah" (Exodus 1:11)
And laid upon us bondage--as it is written: "And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour" (Exodus 1:13).
So we cried unto the Eternal our God. As it is written: “Then we cried to the Eternal, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression.” (Deuteronomy 26:6)
And it came to pass that the king of Egypt died. And the people Israel groaned under the bondage, and they cried out; and the screams wrung from them by their bondage came up unto God. And God remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Exodus 2:23)
And God saw our affliction – this refers to the enforced separation of husband and wife, as it is written: “God saw the children of Israel and God knew their plight.” (Exodus 2:25)
Our toil – this refers to the drowning of the sons, as it is written: “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, but every daughter you may keep alive.” (Exodus 1:22)
And our oppression – this recalls the pressure put on the Israelites, as it is written: “And I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.” (Exodus 3:9)
And the Eternal brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terror and with signs and wonders." (Deuteronomy 26:8)
“And the Eternal brought us forth from Egypt”- not by a ministering angel, not by a fiery angel, not by a seraph, but by God alone in glory, did the Holy One, Barukh Hu, as is is written: “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment--I, the Eternal.” (Exodus 12:12)
“And I will pass through the land of Egypt” -- I and not a ministering angel;
“And I will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” --I and not a fiery angel;
"And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment" -- I and not a seraph
“I the Eternal” -- I and no other.
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