“And Yosef, his brothers, and all of that generation died… And a new king, who did not know of Yosef, rose to power… (Shemos1/6-8)
Concerning these pessukim the Medrash comments, “(These pessukim come) to teach you that as long as one of people who came to Mitzrayim was still alive, the Mitzriim didn’t enslave B’nei Yisroel and B’nei Yisroel were fruitful and multiplied…” In other words, the enslavement of the Jewish nation didn’t start until the whole generation of those who came to Mitzrayim died.
Zera Shimshon asks what was so special about the generation of those that went down to Mitzrayim that their presence sheilded us from enslavement ?
He explains in light of another Medrash.
On the Posuk “And a new king rose to power…” the Medrash explains, “When Yosef died (B’nei Yisroel) did away with Milah … And since they did this (stopped to circumcise) Hashem replaced the love that the Mitzriim showed them to hate….”
According to this, explains Zera Shimshon, we can understand the special stature of the generation who came to Mitzrayim; they were circumcised and therefore the merit of the mitzvo saved them from being enslaved.
However, Zera Shishmon asks that this explanation is still not enough. He asks that granted the second generation stoppped circumcising their children but they themselves were cirmcumcised? This being so, why didn’t their Milah protect them from being enslaved?
He answers that the sin of not circumcising their children canceled out the merit of they themselve being circumcised, like we learn in Mesechta Sotah, ” sin extinguishs a mitzvo“.
Zera Shimshon only explains that the merit of milah prevented enslavement and bondage. He doesn’t, however, explain the depth behind this.
However, I (Sh.P.) think that we can explain the connection according to a very important concept put forth by the Maharal.
Rashi in parshas Bo writes that before our redemption from Mitzrayim, Hashem commanded us to circumcise ourselves and to bring the karbon Pesach. The Maharal explains the reason for specifically these two mitzvos was that we weren’t just redeemed from Mitzrayim to be free people. Rather, we were redeemed from being slaves and servants to Paraoh and Mitrazyim in order to become servants of Hashem.
Therefore, explains Maharal, in order to become servants to Hashem we needed to serve Hashem. (Talk and promises are cheap). We were therefore commanded to bring a karbon Pesach.
We also needed to show that we are now servants of Hashem. This is the reason for milah which is really “a symbol of servitude” (just like all slaves wear like we learn in Mesechta Shabbos.
According to this concept, we can undestand the depth of Zera Shimshon. As long as Clal Yisroel was careful to circumcise themselves they proclaimed that they are servants or slaves to Hashem and therefore they ware privileged to special protection from Hashem like all masters protect their servants.
However after they stopped being servants to Hashem they were “fair game” to be enslaved by other masters.
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