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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are We Still Slaves?

In the Passover Hagaddah it's written:

עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם
Avodim hayinu lipharoh bamitzrayim
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt
Most people concentrate on the first two words:
עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ
Avodim hayinu
We were slaves
They think of the physical drudgery and suffering and celebrate its cessation on Passover.  But G-d was more concerned with the emotional, ideological, religious slavery to Pharoah, his mentality and values.  That's why:
וַיּוֹצִיאֵנוּ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מִשָּׁם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה.

...veyotzi'ainu Adoshem Elokeinu misham biyad chazakah uvezroah nituya.
...and Our G-d Almighty took us out with a strong hand and outstretched arm.

This is not the famous Dayenu "It Would Have Been Enough" song.
אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִצְרַים וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים, דַּיֵינוּ.

If He had brought us out from Egypt, Ilu hotzianu mimitzrayim, אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם
and had not carried out judgments against them v'lo asah bahem sh'fatim, וְלֹא עָשָׂה בָּהֶם שְׁפָטִים
— Dayenu, it would have sufficed! dayeinu! דַּיֵּנוּ
The physical part was the easy part.  If it was just the physical aspect of slavery that worried G-d, then just His Hand would have had been sufficient to extradite us from Egypt.  In the Bible, the use of the word יד yad hand connotates "strength."  But we needed more than a one dimentional, physical removal.  We needed to remove the Egyptian values and morals, the slavery to Pharoah from our minds and hearts.  G-d also had to embrace us with His וּבִזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה z'roah nituya, outstretched arm.

This process of freeing ourselves from foreign influence is an ongoing process.  The חמץ chametz chametz of our minds and hearts are the hardest to remove.

חג כשר ושמח
Chag Kasher v'Same'ach
Have a Happy & Kosher Holiday

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