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    Were they really slaves? – Sh’mot

    This week’s Torah reading speaks of the Hebrews being oppressed by Pharaoh and the Egyptians. But note that Egypt is called Bet Avadim, the house of servants. Avadim are not slaves but servants.

    Slaves are nobodies. They are chattels. Their master owns them. They have no rights. They cannot choose anything for themselves.

    Servants, on the other hand, are human beings in an unfortunate situation. In the Torah, servants are people who had to work off their time of difficulty. They have minds and hearts and spirits. They dream of being regular, ordinary people.

    Their situation is intolerable but they tolerate it and yearn to be back in society.

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