Sunday, April 06, 2014

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Slavery and the Ten Commandments

Slavery and the Ten Commandments


by Reb Gutman Locks


Meir Asked:

     Why when Hashem gave us the Ten Commandments did He start by saying, “I Am Hashem who brought you out of the land of Egypt?”


Gutman’s Response:

     Knowing that Hashem brought us out of Egypt is the key to knowing where we want to go today, and how to get there.

     The day that Hashem gave us those Commandments was one of the most important days in the history of the world. Hashem was speaking to the entire Jewish Nation teaching us what we have to do in order to stay out of physical and spiritual slavery.

     Surely, the Torah recounts our history, but even more importantly, it teaches us about our very lives today.

     We made a terrible mistake back then, and because of it we became enslaved. We went into Egypt to earn a living, and we forgot the Torah. We had to go down into Egypt, but we did not have to forget the Torah. Money became the objective. The slavery that came from this mistake was bitter, and we saw no way out. Year after year, we cried out for the bitterness to end, but to no avail.

     Then, Hashem in His kindness took us out of that slavery. He brought us out into a wilderness, with no apparent way to provide for us and our children. But we trusted in G-d, and we went out happily, relying only on Him. Lo and behold we found our livelihood lying on the barren, desert floor! It was there right in front of us. All we had to do was bend over and pick it up. But, be careful, if we took more than we needed, that extra portion rotted.

     So it is today. If we go out into the market place to make a living, which we still have to do, and our intention is solely to make money, we will soon become enslaved in the same bondage that enslaved us back then in Egypt. But if we go out into the world to make that same money in order to do holy deeds, then that same work will become holy work.

     So why did Hashem begin His most important statement to us identifying Himself as the One Who brought us out of Egypt? He was telling us, just like He took us out of Egyptian slavery back then when we relied upon Him, so will He take us out of our personal, current slavery, if only we rely upon Him now…and how do we rely on Hashem? By fulfilling His commandments. And this is why we find that even after Hashem brought us out of Egypt does He say, “I am Hashem…Who takes you out of Egypt…”[1]

     When we follow His Torah with a full heart we are like the tribe of Levy. They also went down into Egypt, but since they maintained the Torah and its mitzvahs in Egypt they were not enslaved.  So are we able to go out into the world today and not be enslaved by it, if only we cherish Hashem’s Torah and fulfill it with joy.


[1] For instance: Leviticus 22:33


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