How long can we do all this? There is so much. It never ends. My mother suffered every day, and I suffer as she did. Will my children always feel our burden? How can I bear to work and to see them suffer? How did my mother bear it? She did not, it killed her spirit and then her body. She used to sing to me but now the tune has faded from my memory. When will I have strength to sing to my children? All I can do is to cry for an end to this pain and degradation. Release me, release us!
9 Moses said, we will go with our young and our elders, we will with our sons and with our daughters, with our sheep and with our cattle—because it is holy day of YHWH for us.Exodus 10
How will we go, we sons and daughters of slaves? If the day of our redemption ever comes, we will stand and cheer, even if it means that we march out into the desert. That day will wrap around us and carry us to a strange place. We cried and wailed for so long, but we will rejoice then and sing:
2 Please speak to the ears of the people, that every man request from his friends and every woman request from her friends: silverware and gold utensils.Exodus 11
29 At the stroke of midnight, YHWH struck down every firstborn in the Land of Egypt, from Pharaoh’s first born’, sitting on his throne to the first born imprisoned in the jail house and all the first born cattle.Exodus 12
The children of our neighbors are dead, but the horror passed us by. That day they would be on their way to funerals for their first born…
35 And the children of Israel did as Moses had commanded; They requested, from Egyptians silverware and gold utensils and clothing. 36 YHWH made the people find favor in the eyes of Egypt—who gave them those things. They took advantage of the Egypt…Exodus 12
Where did we get the courage to obey Moses’ command? How could we ask for gold and silver and clothing from those suffering neighbors? Why should they agree? Did our voices sound like the winds of change sweeping off the desert?
We looked into their eyes as we spoke our requests. Their eyes revealed pain – we’ve known pain. Their faces bore fear – we’ve known fear. When they gave what they had, it was in the hope of finding relief and release – we mirrored their pain, fear and hope as we took their gold and silver and garments.
Our houses were dark and empty after their children’s funerals had finished. We would not comfort them in heartbreak. There would not be peace or reconciliation after they gave up those things.
They gave to escape more pain as we took their possessions to save us all. Did they ever know that?
1 You will say to me on that day I will thank YHWH for being angry with me, then turned away anger and comforted me. 2 Here God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid because my strength and my rejoicing is in YHWH, who will be my release…Isaiah 12
Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021