Pesach (Seder) Dvar Torah: True Freedom

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    True Freedom:
    לכן אמר לבני ישראל אני ה’ והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלת מצרים והצלתי אתכם מעבדתם וגאלתי אתכם בזרוע נטויה ובשפטים גדלים: ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם והייתי לכם לאלקים וידעתם כי אני ה’ אלקיכם המוציא אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים
    Therefore, say to the Children of Israel, “I am Hashem, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; I shall rescue you from their service; I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I shall take you to Me for a people, and I shall be a G-d to you, and you will know that I am Hashem your G-d, Who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt” (Shemos 6:6-7).
    In Parashas Va’eira, we come across the arba leshonos shel geulah, the four expressions of redemption: “Ve’hotzeisi — I shall take you out” from under the burdens of Egypt; “ve’hitzalti — I shall rescue you” from servitude; “ve’ga’alti — I shall redeem you” with an outstretched arm and with great judgments; and “ve’lakachti — I shall take you” as a nation.
    The first full phrase, “Ve’hotzeisi es’chem mi’tachas sivlos Mitzrayim,” is generally translated as: “I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt,” where the translation for sivlos as burdens aligns with the translation of Onkelos: “dechok polchan,” the hardship of labor.
    The etymology behind the word sivlos is tolerance, patience, as in the word savlanus. (See Sfas Emes, Va’eira 5654.) A patient person bears the burden or endures the suffering, but never reacts with impulsiveness or impetuousness. We can use this translation to bring us to a new understanding of Hashem’s promises to redeem us: “Ve’hotzeisi es’chem mi’tachas sivlos Mitzrayim.” The Yidden had become accustomed to and were sovel the Egyptians, having fallen into the dangerous trap of routine and habituation. They reached the point where they no longer wished or dreamt for anything different or anything better.
    This type of sivlos, where one no longer has any aspirations, is the worst and most perilous type of sufferance and forbearance. HaKadosh Baruch Hu therefore said that the first step of redemption is to get the Yidden to stop accepting their second-class matzav, to extricate them from sivlos Mitzrayim, tolerance of Egyptian bondage. Only once they were redeemed from their sivlos mindset could the subsequent steps of geulah be accomplished. As the Kotzker Rebbe (cited in Iturei Torah ad loc.) put it: “The first step to freedom is rejection of bondage.” Indeed, before the physical geulah, they needed a psychic geulah, a redemption of the mind.
    With this, we can answer a very basic question. What is the difference between the first two leshonos of geulah: “Ve’hotzeisi es’chem mi’tachas sivlos Mitzrayim,” and “Ve’hitzalti es’chem mei’avodasam,” between being taken out from the burdens of Egypt and being rescued from their service? Don’t both promise freedom from slavery?
    With our new understanding, we can see that these two phrases are informing us that only after Hashem saves Bnei Yisrael from the slave mentality, the sivlos complex, can He save them from the actual avodah, the actual work.
    This also helps us answer another question. After listing the four leshonos of geulah, the pasuk concludes with the words: “And you know that I am Hashem your G-d, Who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt.” Why, when speaking about how we will know Hashem, does the Torah only single out the first of the four leshonos? Why do we only arrive at knowledge of Hashem with the step of ve’hotzeisi?
    The Torah is not simply repeating or selecting one of the four stages of geulah. Rather, it is emphasizing the precursor and herald of all the subsequent stages. Without removal of the sivlos Mitzrayim, the slave mentality, Bnei Yisrael would not have been able to be freed. They would never have been able to know themselves, nor to know what they were capable of. The freedom from sivlos, this opening of the inner eyes, is the cornerstone that needed to be in place in order to effect a change. This lashon is therefore the foremost one, and must be stressed.
    Rav Gedaliah Schorr (Ohr Gedalyahu ad loc.), in the name of the Izhbitzer, takes this one step further. This sivlos mindset, he explains, is the reason no slave ever escaped Egypt (Yalkut Shimoni, Yisro 269). How can this be? In the country’s thousands of square miles, could one slave among millions not find a means of escape? There have no doubt been more elaborate and well-designed jails from which escapes have been executed successfully; could no one leave Egypt?
    The enslavement in Egypt was not just physical, but psychological. The Egyptians did not employ mere physical methods to keep the populace enslaved — that is not foolproof — they used PSYOPS, psychological operations, to enslave them. They would, in as many ways as necessary, broadcast and convince the people that they had no future outside of Egypt: “This is the best place in the world; there is no better setup for you. How fortunate you are to be living in this luscious land!” The Egyptians removed any expectation beyond furtherance of this type of life, thus causing the Jews to never even want to leave. When Chazal tell us that no slave ever left Egypt, it was not due solely to the strong fortifications and defenses surrounding the country; it was also because no slave even wanted to leave in the first place.
    Rav Schorr goes on to say that this gift of ve’hotzeisi was bequeathed to the Jews forever — to never tolerate or wish to follow the ways of the non-Jews. Instead, we are always able to appreciate our gadlus as members of the army of Hashem.
    The greatest gift one can give to a person is the belief that he is much more and that he can do much more. After all, true freedom can only come to one who will not settle for a life of complacency, but who is always looking to better his situation and better himself.

    Reb Eliezer

    How is it that Dasan Vaavirom did not get killed in the three dark days? Those who did not want to lieave were killed but they wanted to, so the Jews were different than other slaves as they strived to be saved and go to Eretz Yisroel.

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