And Hashem spoke to Moshe….Please speak in the ears of the people that each man should borrow from his friend and each lady should borrow from her friend silver articles and gold articles… (Shemos 11/1-2)
Chazal (Brechos 9a) explain these pessukim, “(Hashem told Moshe) go and speak to Yisroel, ‘I ask you, please borrow from… in order that that the tzadik (Avrohom) will not claim that “and they will enslave and persecute them” Y. fulfilled but “and afterwards they will leave with a lot of possessions” Y.u didn’t fulfill?'”
Zera Shimshon asks two questions. Firstly, why does Hashem give the reason for taking the jewelery because of H.s concern, sort to speak, of what Avrohom would say and not simply because Hashem promised at Bris Bain HaBesorim that they will leave Mitzrayim with a lot of possessions?
Secondly, why did Hashem fullfull H.s promise in a seemingly deceitful way- by asking to borrow the Egyptian jewelry (even though they had no intention to ever give it back)? Why didn’t Hashem just tell them to take the possessions of the Mitzraiim?
He answers according to the concept we wrote about in last week’s parsha. Hashem rules the world using two contradictory attributes- the Attribute of Mercy and the Attribute of Justice. We don’t know which one H. uses at any given time. We only know that both are used to judge and rule the world.
Hashem decreed at Bris Bain HaBesorim that we we were to be enslaved for four hundred years. The degree of suffering that we were mandated to go through during these four hundred years was not limitless but was meant to be the normal degree of slavery. The Mitzriim, however, went way “overboard” and they persecuted and inflicted tremendous pain on us, much much more than average slaves.
Because of this, according to Hashem’s Attribute of Mercy, 210 years of the tremendous terrible suffering of the 210 years equaled 400 years of the slavery that was originally decreed.
Interestingly, Hashem’s Attribute of Justice also agreed that B’nei Yisroel should be redeemed from Mitzrayim early, after 210 years. But not because our suffering should be counted as if we served all four hundred years. Rather, simply because we didn’t deserve to suffer so much. The tremendous suffering was not part of the original decree Bain HaBesorim. The remaining years, according to Hashem’s Atrribute of Justice, would have to be made up, though, under some other nation.
The main difference between the Attribute of Mercy and the Attribute of Justice is if we have to “make up” the remaining 190 years. According to the Attribute of Justice we have to. According to Attribute of Mercy we won’t have to because our suffering made it is as if we “served the whole sentence”.
There is, however, yet another difference. If we didn’t yet complete the whole decree we are not yet entitled to “and afterwards they will leave with great possessions”. If however it is considered like we served the whole four hundred years, then we are entitled to leave “with great possessions”.
With this in mind we can now understand the above Gemorro.
Hashem judged us that it was time to leave Mitzrayim but it wasn’t clear if it was with Mercy or with Justice. Therefore they weren’t allowed to just take gold and silver articles from the Mitzriim because it is not 100% sure that they can take it (since according to the Attribute of Justice they don’t deserve it yet). This is because of the Halachik concept, “the burden of proof is on the one who claims”.
However, after it is in B’nei Yisroel’s hands and the burden of proof is now on the Mitzriim, they don’t have to give it back since the Mitzriim also don’t have a 100% claim on it (since B’nei Yisroel do deserve according to the Attribute of Mercy).
Hashem begged them to take the articles because H. knew that Avrohom Ovino who is the pillar of Mercy and looks at the world through merciful eyes held that the severeness of the enslavement was enough to fulfill the decree. Therefore if they would leave without the articles Avrohom would surely complain!
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