web analytics
September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



The Meaning Of Our Redemption

Front-Page-032213

According to this version of the text, our difficulty can be resolved by explaining that the Haggadah simply means we would have been enslaved in Egypt in every generation, to whichever power was ruling the country at the time. Our version of the Haggadah, however, is cited by the geonim (Seder Rav Amram Gaon), Rambam (Hilchos Chametz Umatzah, nusach haHaggadah), and the version of Machzor Vitri that we possess (sec. 97). According to all these authorities, our question applies – and in fact, Abudraham’s assertion that Pharaoh’s dynasty had ended by the time the Haggadah was written only makes the question more powerful. See Maaseh Nissim on the Haggadah (by the author of Nesivos Hamishpat) for a lengthy discussion of this issue.

Perhaps we can answer this question by introducing a new understanding of the nature of the Jews’ servitude in Egypt. Halacha defines two different types of slaves mentioned in the Torah: an eved Ivri, a Jewish slave, and an eved Canaani, a non-Jew who is acquired by a Jewish person to be a slave. The essence of an eved Ivri is not affected by the fact that he is a slave; he is required to work for his master but remains intrinsically the same person he was before his enslavement. His “slavery” does not define his essence. It is his way of paying off a debt.

An eved Canaani, on the other hand, becomes so deeply enmeshed in slavery that he is intrinsically considered to have lost the status of an independent being. Proof of this can be found in the Gemara (Pesachim 88b). The Gemara rules that anything an eved Canaani acquires belongs to his master. Another proof is that the halacha also states that if an eved Canaani sells an object or gives it away as a gift, his master has the power to decide whether or not the transaction is valid; if the master wishes the transaction to take effect, then it does, but if he wishes to cancel it, it is considered null and void (Rambam, Hilchos Mechirah 30:2). In fact, even if someone injures an eved Canaani, the payments the assailant is required to make are given to the master, as per the Gemara (Gittin 12b).

Moreover, an eved Canaani of a kohen is permitted to eat terumah (Vayikra 22:11 and Toras Kohanim, ibid. ch. 5). Usually only immediate family members of a kohen are allowed to eat terumah. Even the daughter of a kohen who has married a non-kohen cannot eat terumah because she is not considered part of her father’s family anymore. Nevertheless the eved Canaani of a kohen is permitted to eat terumah.

The reason for all these laws is that the very essence of an eved Canaani is considered to be subjugated to his master. The eved Canaani is viewed as an extension of his master; he lacks any independent power or significance of his own.

We suggest the Jews’ subjugation to the Egyptians was similar to the enslavement of an eved Canaani, and in fact it was far more profound. Not only were the Jewish people forced to engage in backbreaking menial labor in Egypt, but we find their spirits and souls were also crushed by the servitude, as they sank to the depths of the spiritual impurity of Egypt and became corrupted by Egyptian society and religion. They were in essence Egyptian slaves who had become the Egyptians’ possessions. Their identity as Jews has been lost.

This complete, crushing enslavement was planned by the Egyptians. It was with this objective that they subjected Bnei Yisrael to backbreaking labor that did not even have a purpose, as Chazal infer from the names of the cities the Jews built, Pitom and Ramses. The Gemara (Sotah 11a) explains the significance of these names: “Pitom” alludes to the fact that the pi tehom, the “mouth of the abyss” (i.e., the earth), would open up and swallow whatever they built, and “Ramses” is an abbreviation for the Hebrew phrase rishon rishon misroses, which means that everything they built would immediately collapse.

The clear implication is that the Egyptians forced the Jews to toil over the cities purely for the sake of making them work; the slave labor brought no actual benefit to the Egyptians, since nothing the Jews built was lasting. The Jews were thus forced to engage in work whose entire purpose was to make them do the bidding of their Egyptian overlords. The Egyptians’ intent was to cause them to feel like slaves, to be completely subjugated in an emotional and spiritual as well as a physical sense.

About the Author: Rav Dovid Hofstedter is the author of the “Dorash Dovid” seforim on the Torah and Moadim. He is also the founder and nasi of Dirshu – a worldwide Torah movement dedicated to accountability in Torah learning among all segments of Klal Yisrael that has impacted more than 100,000 participants since its inception fifteen years ago.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Meaning Of Our Redemption”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Kreshnik Berisha is not Jewish but played for a German soccer team - before joining ISIS.
German Man on Trial for ISIS Membership Played On Jewish Soccer Team
Latest Indepth Stories
Donny-Fuchs-medium

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

syria_stratfo

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Phyllis Chesler

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

Gas Pump

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

During the war, not once was Hashem’s name mentioned to the nation by Israel’s PM or gov’t officials

How many illegal Arab structures are there in the city? Why are they not being destroyed?

We did not win the war in Gaza because we are still captive to the concept of the 2 state solution.

Trapped in a false notion of power, America will lose the battle in the same way Israel now loses.

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true that 9/11 changed my life. There is evil in the world. Our grandparents were right.

More Articles from Rav Dovid Hofstedter
Front-Page-041814

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

Front-Page-083013

Achdus, unity, is a term that warms the heart. It is an ideal we all aspire to achieve but often find so elusive.

We are still in galus. Another year has gone by, a difficult year in many ways, but Mashiach has not yet arrived, the Beis HaMikdash has not yet been rebuilt and we are still languishing in exile.

“Therefore we are obligated to give thanks…to the One Who performed all these miracles for our forefathers and for us. He took us out from slavery to freedom…and from servitude to redemption.” – Haggadah shel Pesach

Every Jew’s soul is a piece of the Divine essence, hewn from beneath the Throne of Glory.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/the-meaning-of-our-redemption/2013/03/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: