Midreshet Amit


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Slavery and Freedom: Then and Now

By: Shelly Edry

In this week’s Parsha, Va’Era, Hashem says to Moshe that he will finally free B’nei Israel from Egypt, end their enslavement and redeem them, but what does redemption really mean. Redemption  means finding your voice. Rav Soloveitchik’s definition of a slave is not just someone in bondage, but more about someone’s internal state of mind, that he feels has nothing to say or to contribute to the world. A free person has something to say; a voice, A slave does not stick up for himself, nor has a voice, because he does not know a better life and thinks that life is what it is. full of misery. Speech gives redemption and freedom. In the Parsha, Shmot chapter 6 pasuk 12, it says Moshe has impeded speech, referring to his speech impediment. Most of us may think this is derived from the famous midrash, when Paroh showed him a crown and coals to choose, from, and the angel pushed him away from the crown to show he does not want to rule over him. He then chose the coals, but burnt his tongue, and caused a speech impediment. The Mystical Zohar has a different view of this. Moshe’s lack of proper speech has nothing to do with his physical ability, but mental state of mind. He and the Jewish people were enslaved and did not have voice. In last week’s parsha, Moshe kills an Egyptian, which is the first time we see a Jew standing up for himself in this traumatic time period. Before, no one has a sense of self, or the ability to speak up for himself. The process of B’nei Israel’s redemption began  when they were given a voice. Moshe found them in silence, and provided the first stammering of sound. He eventually showed them instead of just a shout, you can ask for bettering. This is where Tzedaka vs Tefialh comes in. The first is a complaint to Hashem, while the second allows us to have hope, and vouch for the right ideas. Through Torah and Tefilah, each Jew can find their voice. The Torah is the ultimate vehicle to show that Jews have something to say: that we have the potential for redemption and freedom, even in our times as well.