What did we do to Deserve This? by Josh Rossman

(2002/5763)

Why did the Jews have to be exiled from Eretz Yisrael and be enslaved in Egypt for so many years?  According to the Ramban it was a punishment for Avraham Avinu’s actions. Although Avraham left Canaan for a famine, he should have stayed there because Hashem never told him to leave.  The Abarbanel also says that it was a punishment, but for a different sin. He says that it was punishment for the sin of the brothers who kidnapped Yosef. He claims that each event that happened in Egypt corresponds to something that the brothers did to Yosef.  For example, they sold him into slavery, so they were enslaved.  They threw him into the pit, and in return their male children were thrown in the Nile River.  The Chachamim (Nedarim 32a) give three more reasons as to why we were enslaved which are based on three episodes in Avraham’s life.  One such event was when Avraham sent his Talmidim to fight in the war.  Another instance was when Avraham asked for a sign to indicate that he would receive Eretz Yisrael.  The third reason is according to Rav Yochanan who says that Avraham didn’t give those who worshipped idols enough of a chance to repent.  We see from this that our sins can have a large effect even on later generations therefore, so we should try to do more Mitzvot and fewer Aveirot in order to hasten the arrival of Mashiach. 

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