How Did B'nai Yisrael Excel in Egypt?

At the Pesach Seder we recite the following words “Arami oved avi…”, “The Aramite (Lavan, Yaakov’s father-in-law) attempted to destroy my forefather (Yaakov). Then Yaakov descended to Egypt and lived there in a tiny community. There his descendents became a great people, powerful and numerous”.

Although Lavan and Pharaoh tried to destroy B’nai Yisrael, Yaakov’s children, even under harsh circumstances were not destroyed. Against all odds, they became a “goy gaadol”, a great people.

The Hagaddah says that B’nai Yisrael excelled in Egypt (Mitzuyanim).

In what ways were they mitzuyanim?

In Shir HaShirim Raba, Rav Huna says in the name of Bar Kafra: The Jews were redeemed from Egypt for the following four reasons:

  1. They did not give up their Jewish names
  2. They did not give up their language
  3. They did not gossip
  4. They did not have relations with the Egyptians

 Sefer HAggada adds a fifth reason:

  1. They performed acts of loving kindness

How can we today help bring about the final redemption which is referred to at the end of the seder?  I believe that it is by ensuring Jewish continuity; giving our children Jewish names, making Hebrew language a priority, taking care not to speak lashon hara, dating within the Jewish community and performing acts of chesed.

 As we look toward the final redemption “L’Shana HaBaah B’Yerushalayim HaBenuyah”, “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem” let’s take it upon ourselves to be mitzuyanim, let’s excel as B’nai Yisrael did in the observance of these mitzvoth.