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EXODUS: THEN AND NOW
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The Exodus from Egypt which took place 3319 years ago was characterized by haste.

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The Exodus from Egypt which took place 3319 years ago was characterized by haste.  When the Jewish People were commanded to eat the paschal lamb on the night of the 14th of Nissan, the evening before they left Egypt, they were told to eat it in haste:

And thus shall you eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste  ̶  it is the L-rd's Passover.

(Exodus 12:11)

The actual process of leaving Egypt also involved haste.  Pharaoh was overcome with fear for his life, as he, too, was a firstborn.  For some reason which he did not comprehend, he found himself still alive the morning after all the other firstborn Egyptians, child or adult, slave or the highest of nobles, had been mysteriously slain in one night.  Even among the herds, the firstborn cattle and sheep had died.

Pharaoh feared that any minute, any second, he too might suffer the same fate.  Therefore he urged Moses to remove the Jews from Egypt with all the expediency he could muster.  The masses, hysterical with terror, echoed Pharaoh's urgent request, as the verse tells us:

And the Egyptians pressed upon the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said: "We are all dying."

(Exodus 12:33)

Heaven helped the people of Israel to comply with this request.  Within the matter of a few hours, six hundred thousand individuals gathered together on one site, ready to leave the land of their bondage.  At once, they started to move in the direction of the Red Sea.

Their alacrity was not incidental, nor was it just a superficial detail of the Exodus.  It was an intrinsic factor of their redemption, as planned by Heaven.  Time is one of the limitations imposed on mankind by the physical world of Nature.  G-d, the Creator of Nature, is above the limitations of Nature, both time and place.  Consequently, when G-d performs supernatural miracles, these are not subject to the factor of time.

The matzah we eat on Pesach is a testimony to this hasty, supernatural departure from Egypt.  There was no interval for the Israelites' dough to rise before they went out of Egypt, so they quickly packed it into bundles and slung it over their shoulders, just as it was.  The desert sun baked it into the unleavened form of bread we know to this day as matzah.

Each year, we partake of this special, symbolic food as a commemoration of that critical moment in our national history, the moment when we left the land of Egypt behind us, when we passed from the darkness of bondage to the light of freedom as G-d's chosen nation.

The matzah teaches us a clear lesson: the Exodus was not a natural, historical event in the usual sense of the word.  It was not the result of an uprising against tyranny, or a war of liberation as the result of a bold declaration of political independence.

The birth of the Jewish nation does not fit into any natural, historical framework similar to the pattern of oppressed nations throughout history which struggled for, and achieved, their independence as political entities.

The future redemption which we eagerly anticipate will not be characterized by such a rapid turn of events.  This is so because the redemption from Egypt was a Heaven-sent gift, presented to the sons of our nation's founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who had won G-d's favor hundreds of years earlier.

In contrast, the future redemption will not be a present; it must be earned by our own efforts.  This is a long, drawn-out and difficult process.  Centuries of exile among the nations of the world have served as a "training ground" where we are drilled again and again in lessons of faith and loyalty to our Creator.  The trials and tests of the Diaspora were, designed by Heaven to give us the opportunity to earn our right to be redeemed.  They continue to serve this purpose yet today, in our times.

The experience we have gained during centuries of struggles against the world's forces of evil is calculated by Heaven to school us in all the skills required to merit the ultimate redemption, the final geulah.

This is an enormous spiritual challenge, requiring the collective effort of generation after generation of G-d-fearing Jews dedicated to serving their Creator.

Our final deliverance from evil will be accompanied by severe birth pangs in the form of the harsh, prolonged exile which we are experiencing yet today.  However, we know for a certainty that the future redemption is drawing ever closer.  The eastern sky slowly grows lighter before the dawn, bit by bit, until the climactic moment when the sun appears in all its splendor and glory.  So, too, is our geulah slowly coming closer and closer, approaching that momentous day when the entire world will glow with the light of the ultimate redemption.


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