by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek
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Please speak in the ears of the people, and let each man request from his friend and each woman from her friend, articles of silver and articles of gold.
Please speak. Rashi: The word nah can only mean a term for beseeching. [This means: G-d says] I beseech you, [Moses] please instruct them about this (i.e. that the Israelites should take the silver and golden articles of the Egyptians), so that the righteous man, Abraham, should not say He fulfilled [his promise] and they will enslave them and afflict them but [his promise] and afterwards they will go free with great wealth He did not fulfill.
What is Rashi Saying?
Let us begin this analysis by first understanding what Rashi is
He then explains why G-d was beseeching (please) Moses to tell the Israelites take the silver and golden vessels from the Egyptians. The reason: So that Abraham wont have a complaint against G-d.
Now, were ready for your questions on this Rashi-comment.
What would you ask here?
A Question: Why does Rashi offer this remote drash? (Taken from the Talmud Brachos 9a) What is wrong with the simple meaning of the verse i.e. G-d is asking Moses to tell the Israelites to take the silver and gold from their Egyptian masters before they depart Egypt ?
Hint: Are the words in the dibbur hamaschil appropriate in our context?
What Is Bothering Rashi?
An Answer: G-d is pleading (please) with Moses to tell the people to take reparations, their valuables, from the Egyptians. The problem is, why the need to say please, as if G-d were asking them to do Him a favor? Taking the precious vessels should be all too readily appreciated by Moses and by the newly freed slaves. The poetic justice of despoiling the Egyptians after the all the years that the Egyptians had despoiled them - physically, monetarily and morally - the Israelites would certainly have been ready to fulfill this mitzvah without any prompting. Why then the need for the word please ?
How does Rashis drash deal with this problem?
An Answer: Rashi tells us that this was a special request from G-d, Who wanted the freed slaves to take the gold and silver so that Abraham would not accuse Him of not keeping His word completely.
Does that make sense to you? It shouldnt! What would you ask on this midrash which Rashi quotes?
Questioning the Drash
A Question: If G-d promised Abraham that his offspring would leave Egypt with great wealth, why is G-d concerned that his promise be fulfilled only so that the righteous man, Abraham, wont complain ? If G-d promised Abraham, then He should keep his promise whether Abraham would complain or not. Is G-d more concerned with Abrahams opinion than He is with His moral obligation to keep His word?
Do you have an answer?
Think! The answer depends on common sense.
Hint: The source of this drash, as we pointed out above, is in the Talmud, tractate Brachos page 9a. If you look it up, you will see the continuation of the drash. This should answer the question.
What does it say there?
Understanding the Drash
Answer: The drash continues (after the part quoted by Rashi):
They (the Israelites) said to him (Moses, after he told them to take the valuable articles) :
Oh! That we ourselves should get out of here! This is similar to a man who was in jail and they said to him we will free you tomorrow and then you will receive a lot of money. He answered them I beg you, free me now and Ill gladly forgo the money.
In light of the completed midrash, can you now answer the question?
Answer: The parable of the man in jail makes it abundantly clear that the Israelite slaves wanted to get out of Egypt as soon and as sure as possible. They would have gladly forfeited the great wealth promised Abraham, just to get their Freedom Now.
In that case, it was not a question of G-d keeping His promise or not, since the beneficiaries of that wealth would have willingly forfeited it, just to escape as soon as possible from their imprisonment in the Land of Bondage. Had G-d allowed them to leave without the wealth, they would have been grateful and would not have complained. This would not be interpreted as G-d reneging on His promise.
However, since G-d wanted to be faithful to Abraham and to the promise He made to him, He therefore beseeched (please) Moses to convince the people to take the time and effort to take the wealth from the Egyptians so that the Righteous one, Abraham would have no complaints to G-d.