Excerpts from Parsha Shemos by Rabbi Gedalia Segal
When the Egyptians came to enslave the Jewish people and to make them work hard with the mortar and the bricks, they didn’t start the undertaking like people who kidnap people, simple people. What was the way? There was a Jewish Ghetto in Goshen and they were enslaved. Mitzrayim was a big respectable country and they had to go by law, at least as seen by the outside world, it could not be that they were kidnapping people and making them work. Pharo had advisors and they made the laws of the country and they had to have relationship with the surrounding countries. They came to an understanding with the advisors. They had to make the situation into a way that the Jews would want to do it, and then it would be an enslavement and all the screaming would not relieve the situation.
The first way Pharo came, was with a soft sweet talk, in a soft way. It was a national endeavor, that the people would volunteer to do it for the mother country. Pharo himself got involved in showing the people he is involved, like a nationalistic drive. The whole Jewish nation got caught up in it except shevet Levi, and the Jewish people became enslaved more and more. The soft speech became back breaking work at the end and the will to do it, at first as volunteers, then became forced labor.
It says that we are witnesses in our generation to this parsha. We see there is a decree to take the women into the army in Israel. The gedolai haTorah say it should not take women into the armed forces because this would make impure the purity of the Jewish girls. The girls cannot be in an army.
When the government saw the upheaval about this, they also came to this “let’s outsmart them”, soft sweet talk, a nationalistic drive, the girls should volunteer in the hospitals in such situations. It became to the situation we all know now, that it became the girls are enlisted in the Israeli army and we understand that the shevet levi understood, we need mercy from the heavens in terms of enlisting Jewish girls in the armed forces in eretz Yisrael.
In mitrayim they did backbreaking work, perach, they came with the tricky sweet talk and then back breaking work. At the beginning Pharo said I will give you money and reward. And when they were already fooled because of the pay and the reward for each brick they put together, they started working more hours because it wasn’t enough. Once they laid down the foundation they came to this situation of backbreaking work, that they had to scream that they needed Hashem to help them.
We see the personal exile of a person. There is a Pharo in a person, the yetzer hara in us, and he fools us with sweet talk to work the whole day for more money and the gemara he puts to the side. He doesn’t have time for Torah because he is busy with the work from morning to evening and night. And all his body parts for his veins and the parts of his body goes after just making money, to make more and more money.
So there is no end to it. The strength gets you to stop. What is going to be with the Torah?
Torah is put to the side and the tefillin and good deeds, the mind does not have time for that and then when we think about it it is too late and it is hard to make up the loss for all those years and they did not make use of this world, so what about what will be with the next world. But the Jewish people although in hard labor were not fooled with Pharo. They were free people . When Moshe and Aaron came to tell then that Hashem remembered them for redemption, they believed Moshe and Aaron.
We have to understand our own personal exile so we don’t get enslaved to our own Pharo. There is no free person except one who is involved with the Torah.