“When Pharaoh let the people leave…” (Shemos 13:17)
I recently heard an interesting lesson from Rav Yaakov Leonard.
The Ramban, in his introduction to Sefer Shemos, writes that we learn from Sefer Shemos, specifically the Exodus, how our future exodus will be, both on a national level, and on a personal level.
Rashi explains that during the Plague of Darkness, while the Egyptians could not see a thing, 80% of the Jewish population died. They were killed during this plague, so the Egyptians could not see and say, “Hey! This time it hit YOU as well!”
Of course, the big question is WHY did they die? The reason given is because they did not want to leave Egypt.
Now, this leaves us with a very serious question. The Jewish nation just spent several hundred years in brutal slavery. They just saw a whole slew of plagues come against Egypt. They KNEW that the redemption was just around the corner. What does it mean when we say they did not want to leave Egypt?
The answer, says Rav Leonard is quite simple when you think about it.
We know that the Jewish nation was steeped in the moral and spiritual depravity of Egypt. There were some things that they didn’t mind so much. And to leave that depravity in order to take on the burden of Torah? It was very difficult to handle and to give up. It was an addiction that they did not want to give up.
The closest comparison is that of a smoker. For decades he smokes, knowing exactly what he is doing to his lungs, knowing that his chances of cancer are going up tremendously. Yet, he STILL does not want to quit! Because, while his brain wants to quit (knowing smoking is bad), his heart doesn’t.
THAT was the situation in Egypt and why 80% of the nation did not make it out.
It’s a very humbling thought. How many times have we realized that something was spiritually dangerous to us, yet we still refuse to even ATTEMPT to put a stop to it? It’s one thing for a person to try and fail, but to not try at all in the first place?
Now, when we plug in the Ramban, we will see that our future redemption, only 20% of the population will make it (and Rashi is the conservative opinion with only 20% leaving). Who will those 20% be? Those who WANT to leave, and make sincere attempts to do so.
Have a wonderful Shabbos!