Back to Egypt by Matis Shulman

1996/5756

                In the desert, after they run out of food, בני ישראל, fearing starvation, complain to Moshe saying "מי יתן מותנו ביד ה' בארץ מצרים בשבתינו על סיר הבשר באכלנו לחם לשבע כי הוצאתם אותנו" (שמות טז:ג).  The traditional translation of this Pasuk is "it would have been better if Hashem had killed us in Egypt while we were sitting on the flesh pots and eating bread; instead you brought us out."

                The obvious question is why should בני ישראל say that things were so good for them in Egypt, that they had eaten meat and bread, when they had just been slaves in Egypt and did not even receive straw for bricks, let alone meat?

                I would like to suggest the possibility that at this point בני ישראל are not simply saying that it would have been better to die in Egypt when they had good food, rather, that their complaints refer to a specific time in Egypt.

                It says with regard to מכת בכורות (שמות יב:יב), "ועברתי בארץ מצרים... והיה הדם לכם לאות על הבתים אשר אתם שם ... ופסחתי עלכם ולא יהיה בהם נגף למשחית בהכתי בארץ מצרים"  On the night of מכת בכורות, Hashem says, "I will pass in Egypt and I will strike all the first born from human to animal, and all the blood will be for you (בני ישראל) as a sign on the houses that you are there and I will pass over you, and you shall not be touched by the destruction when I strike Egypt."

                When בני ישראל say to Moshe that Hashem should have killed them in Egypt, they refer specifically to the night of the fifteenth, while they were eating the קרבן פסח and Hashem's destructive presence was killing the first born of Egypt.  What בני ישראל are saying is Hashem might as well have killed them with the Egyptians instead of starving them in the desert.

                So the Pasuk would now read "מי יתן מותנו ביד ה' בארץ מצרים,"  "It would have been easier if Hashem had just killed us in Egypt, while he was killing the Egyptians, and while we were eating the קרבן פסח."

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