Parashas Shemos, Part 2

In the episode of the burning bush, Hashem tells Moshe (Shemos 3:7): “I have indeed seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their screams on account of their taskmasters, for I have known of their sufferings.” In our last post, we presented one of the Maggid’s interpretations of this statement. Here we present another one.
The Maggid says that the verse can be read as reflecting the three phases of Jewish suffering in Egypt: exile, enslavement, torment. (Rav S.R. Hirsch notes that the first nine plagues can be divided into three groups of three, in which each group includes one plague corresponding to each of these three phases.) In speaking of the “the affliction of My people who are in Egypt,” Hashem is referring to the pain the Jews felt merely from being exiled in Egypt. The “screams on account of their taskmasters” refers to the pain the Jews felt from being subjugated to the Egyptian taskmasters, even though the work initially was not so heavy. Finally, when Hashem says “I have known of their sufferings,” He refers to the pain the Jews felt from the crushing labor that the Egyptians ultimately imposed upon them. When the Jews hit the third stage, they completely forgot the first two, but Hashem remembered all three stages.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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