Parashas Bo

After the ninth plague (darkness), Hashem tells Moshe (Shemos 11:1): “Yet one more plague shall I bring upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterward he will let you go from here. He will send you away totally; he will firmly drive you out from here.” The Maggid calls attention to the fact that Hashem had initially asked Pharaoh only to let the Jews go for a three-day sojourn in the wilderness. Pharaoh had repeatedly refused, until finally the tenth plague (the slaying of the firstborn) forced him to yield. It might be thought that Pharaoh agreed only to what Hashem had originally asked for – to let the Jews take a three-day trip. Hashem therefore tells Moshe that the final stroke in the series of awesome plagues will ultimately lead Pharaoh to regard the Jews as a liability and drive them out, never to return again. Hashem puts added emphasis on the finality of the eviction by telling Moshe that Pharaoh will let the Jews go and drive them out “from here” – the phrase “from here,” which Hashem uses twice, is not really necessary, for Moshe knew well where the Jews were. The Egyptians were glad to see the Jews go; David HaMelech, recounting the exodus, declares (Tehillim 105:38): “Egypt rejoiced when they departed, for the fear of them had fallen upon them.”
The Maggid explains the Egyptians’ rejoicing as follows. Hashem’s honor demands that when a person experiences Divine judgment, he should trust Hashem’s ways and thank Him genially for what He decreed upon him. And if the person is of flawed character, and will not naturally accept Hashem’s judgment genially, Hashem shrewdly arranges circumstances that lead the person to adopt the proper attitude. Suppose, for example, that Hashem decides that a certain person must suffer a loss of 100 dollars, but He knows that the person will be agitated by this loss and will not accept it as he should. He then arranges for a thief to burgle his house at night and steal his valuables, causing him a loss of several thousand dollars. The person will then spend 100 dollars trying to catch the thief, and Hashem will lead him to succeed and get his valuables back. He will then be overjoyed, and will heartily thank Hashem for his good fortune.
The way Hashem dealt with Pharaoh and the Egyptians was along the same lines. He cast fearsome plagues upon them, striking them with terror and leading them to exclaim (Shemos 12:33): “We are all dying!” They then pressed the Jews to leave. And as the Jews set out on their way, the Egyptians willingly gave them all their valuables and finery. As the Torah recounts (Shemos 12:36): “And Hashem gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, so that they urged them to make requests, and they emptied Egypt out.” As Rashi notes, the Egyptians even gave the Jews things they did not ask for, and when a Jew asked for something, the reply was “take two, and go” (cf. Tanchuma Bo 8). The Egyptians saw the Jews as a source of grief, and wished to be rid of them. And when the Jews left, the Egyptians were overjoyed, just as Hashem had intended.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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