A Free Slave

Parshas Vaeira

We are instructed to drink four cups of wine every year on the night we departed from Eygpt. This is to commemorate the four expressions of redemption associated with our Exodus from Eygpt. These statements are recorded by the Torah in a prophecy received by Moshe:

1. I will extract you from under the burdens of the Egypt.

2. I will rescue you from their labor.

3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments

4. I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you.

Question

We can readily understand how the first three expressions connote messages of redemption but how does the fourth “I will take you to Me as a people” suggest freedom from bondage? It seems that it is merely a statement of sequence, of that which will happen to the Jewish people after they are freed.

Answer

The quintessential praise of Hashem – Hallel – begins with the phrase “Praise G-d, praise you servants of G-d”. The Talmud points out that this psalm is particularly apropos in reference to our exit from Egypt. We are thankful we are servants of G-d and not the servants of Pharaoh.

The ultimate redemption is to become a nation under Hashem. Becoming G-d’s people and appointing G-d as our strength completed the Exodus. It is for this that we praise Hashem. Lack of a physical taskmaster does not constitute freedom; to be spiritually free we must become servants of Hashem.

We now have added depth to the conclusion of the verse: “and you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” The Torah is indicating that were we not to become the people of G-d, there would be no motive to take us from under the burdens of Eygpt.

Lesson

What makes you feel free?

Story

Rabbi Boruch Ber Leibowitz (1864 -1939) was a child prodigy who grew to greatness as head of the famed yeshiva of Kaminetz. The study of Torah and Talmud were his bread and butter, and he considered this study his very life.

This attitude can be appreciated in the following anecdote. Reb Boruch Ber once attended a Rabbinical meeting, during which he felt compelled to interrupt the speaker. The lecturer had suggested “We are losing our perspective that the Jewish people cannot survive without Torah.” Reb Baruch Ber broke in, excitedly. “Cannot survive without Torah? Cannot? And if we were able to do so, would we want to? What is life without Torah?”

Weekly Halacha

One may not brush a fur coat on Shabbos with a hard-bristled brush.