At the beginning of this week’s Parsha it talks about the Jewish people’s journey as they had just left Mitzrayim. The Torah tells us how just a few days after having left Egypt and after the Egyptians had just finished burying their dead from Makkas Bechoros, the death of the firstborn, both Pharoah and his people had a change of heart and regretted having let the Jewish people go.
Rashi explains, that the reason for the Egyptian's change of heart was due to the fact that the Jewish people had borrowed a tremendous amount of gold, silver and other valuables, and at this point they realized that the Jewish people were not coming back. All of their hard earned money and wealth was now gone. This realization is what caused the Egyptians to now regret letting the Jewish people free and now spurred the Egyptians to go chase after the Jewish people to bring them back.
Why would this prompt the Egyptians to regret letting the Jewish people go free? The reason that the people of Mitzrayim wanted to free the Jewish people is because they realized that the Jewish people were a danger to them. Now that they are upset about having lost their money, at most the Egyptians should just chase the Jewish people and fight with them to get their money back.
These are two seperate things:
- They let the Jewish people go because it was dangerous to keep them.
- They lost a lot of money to the Jews.
Why would the Egyptian's losing money cause them to now regret having let the Jewish people, who were clearly dangerous to keep as slaves, go free?
Exactly what the connection was between them losing their money and regretting having let the Jewish people go can be debated and hypothesized. However, what is clear is that the Egyptians losing their money was so emotionally upsetting to them that it caused them to lose their sound and rational judgement and ended up with their destruction.
Chasing after the Jewish people to bring them back to Mitzrayim to be their slaves was clearly an act of madness. The Jewish people’s G-d, Hashem, just completely wrecked and destroyed Egypt on account of the Jewish people being enslaved by them. Mitzrayim was still in mourning over the loss of the heads of their families. This act of madness, Rashi explains, was rooted in their loss of money.
There are certain things in life that can cause a person to think and rationalize in a completely illogical, sometimes dangerous and almost mad way. In this scenario we see the Egyptians getting so thrown and upset by their loss of money that they proceed on a path of decision making and reasoning which leads them to the ultimate suicide mission.
One needs to be aware of these powerful forces that can lead one to a path of ruin. By being ever vigilant in checking one’s self with others- who aren’t emotionally charged by the situation at hand, and by critically challenging our own thinking, one can hope to make sound decisions.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Eli Meir Kramer