As the weeks move forward, we proceed into the midst of all the parshiyos that describe the galus of Mitzrayim. Shevet Levi, as we know, was not subjected to the slavery of Mitzrayim like the other shevatim were. It is a bit hard to understand this fact of history because shevet Levi was also a descendant of Yaakov avinu and Hashem prophesied to Avraham that all his descendents would be slaves. How did shevet Levi arrange not to have a working schedule?
Secondly, how does every single Kohen and Levi sit down on the night of the seder and say out loud ‘avadim hayinu l’Pharaoh b’Mitzrayim’? They weren’t subjected to it at all!
Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky, zt’l, says the following idea.
The shibud of Mitzrayim didn’t start until the death of Levi, the last Shevet to be alive. We can ask, why? Why had it only began after the original entourage had gone to the Olam HaEmes?
Says Rav Yaakov, all those that came down with Yaakov had come from eretz Yisroel. They understood that their home was eretz Yisroel and the fact that they were in Mitzrayim and knew that it was only temporary; they understood they were in galus and that itself was a form of slavery. Not being in your own homeland was itself was a type of slavery because they were in a place that they were not contented in! The moment the last member of that generation died klal Yisroel felt, to a certain degree, that they were cut off from eretz Yisroel and that Mitzrayim was their new home; they were lacking the desire to go back to eretz Yisroel. At that point Hashem said you look like you’re getting comfortable here; you’re developing with the culture? You think you belong here? Now we have to step it up a notch, chas v’sholom, and make you real slaves to taste the bitterness of not being in eretz Yisroel. All the while Yaakov avinu’s generation was alive, they felt that void of being in Mitzrayim and not in eretz Yisroel; but they knew that eretz Yisroel was their home. Once they had all perished and made themselves more comfortable there, Hashem said no; this isn’t what you should be calling home.
Levi was the only shevet that still felt that they were strangers there and they truly belonged in eretz Yisroel. The very fact that they were in a place where they didn’t want to be, was galus for them. That being so, there is no issue with them proclaiming avadim hayinu l’Pharaoh b’Mitzrayim’ on Pesach night.
The same is true by us. People tend to acclimate their surrounding and grow accustomed to where they are. We’re Americans; we’re relaxed and easy going. But the truth is we don’t belong here-we belong in eretz Yisroel. The moment we get too comfortable here and we lose the taste of galus, Hashem says I may be forced to do something that will compel you to taste the bitterness of galus. Everyone wants to be yotze their obligation of galus with the mere feelings of being misplaced.
Meshech Chochma noted, about fifteen to twenty years prior to the holocaust, that we will get kicked out of our country and into another country and we will mingle and become part of their society until history will repeat itself and we will be thrown out of there too; the cycle will continuously repeat itself.
It is something we have to constantly think about and remember where we belong-in eretz Yisroel- and stay focused on getting back there b’karov.
May we all be zoche to soar there on the wings of an eagle, with Moshiach, speedily-in our days.