Photo Credit: pixabay

{Guest contribution by Rabbi Reuven Flamer, as a joint project of and}

In the 80s faster computing meant more productive and creative lives. Then in the 90s additional speed coupled with the internet meant even more production. In the 2000s the rise of social media added connection to our friends, family, colleagues, and whoever else.


Today we may be connected but only within a 15 second Instagram moment. Anything much longer fails to grab our attention – at 16 seconds we disconnect!

Makes it real difficult to stop and smell the roses! And when you can’t appreciate the beauty of the rose, you are often left feeling with a nagging thought: What is the point?

Pharaoh’s LinkedIn Profile Page

“What’s the point?” are but a few, simple words, but are a common thought for many of us today; and the question of pointlessness is the death of motivation, hope, and most importantly, action.

This was the basic strategy of the Egyptian leader, Pharaoh. He had a problem. There was an aggressive and creative group residing in his Kingdom, the children of Israel. Pharaoh knew first hand who Jacob (Israel) was. He touched his grace and power, his humility and strength. He saw how his Kingdom’s prime source of wealth and health, the Nile River, literally rose up to greet Jacob. Now, his children were growing in numbers and strength. Pharoah was concerned they would eventually overtake his country and rule the land.

He tried to press them with hard work and slavery.

But the more he tried to hold them down the more they became numerous! Until he threw the ice bucket of “what’s the point” on them. This tactic proved successful and eventually the Jewish people were unable to even welcome the man who came to free them, Moses. They were unable to absorb his encouraging and revolutionary message of “geulah,” redemption. It wasn’t the shovels or the brick making that broke their backs, but the sheer meaninglessness of their labors.

They were given purposeless work that went nowhere. He prevented them from doing what they did best, forcing them instead to fulfill tasks for which they were unskilled and unfit to do. This is called in the Torah “avodas perech,” oppressive labor.

Parting the News Feed River

The Egyptian story is the archetype for exile. Though the story is uniquely Jewish and speaks first to the Jewish people, there are a multitude of messages for all peoples. Those who are familiar with the story, now have a corrupted version of its details, thanks to the second full length movie released this past month (Exodus: Gods and Kings)!

World history is tied up with Jews, no matter their number or strength. The peoples of the world themselves tie history to the Jews. If Egypt had let us alone, we may have remained there as good citizens in Goshen, providing a source of high-end Egyptian wool (the Egyptians eschewed raising sheep right?)

Slavery begins with the mind and heart, and only then leads to the body. But freedom begins the other way around, starting with the body and slowly moving to the mind and heart.

Step into Slavery

The Jews were very comfortable in Egypt. Jacob himself describes his living there as the best years of his life! And the Egyptians also benefitted from the family of Jacob.

When he passed away, a fundamental shift occurred: “the eyes and the heart of Israel were “closed.” Their leader was no longer to be seen, and the inspiration he conferred was to slowly wane. Eventually, closed eyes and hearts led them to search for what they could see, and they drifted to other avenues.


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