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    Leaving empty-handed

    God told Moses that when the Hebrew people left Egypt it would not be empty-handed (Ex. 3:21-22). The long years of unpaid servitude needed to be compensated.

    We might have thought that no amount of compensation would ever be adequate – but this is not the Torah’s view. It told the Hebrews to ask their Egyptian neighbours to give them vessels of silver and gold.

    What did the neighbours have to say? Did they give willingly? The M’chilta says that they did, probably out of remorse. How is this possible? All those years of servitude – how could they be compensated by gold and silver! Surely nothing could pay for the suffering.

    The M’chilta however is saying that the gold and silver are not meant to be a reward or reparations. They are an acknowledgement that great sins have been committed. They are a token or symbol of repentance.

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