What we need to leave Egypt


This is the Torah reading in which, after time and time again saying no, Pharaoh finally says yes to letting people go.  But just having the oppressor relax his grip is not enough.  God requires two other things from the Israelites before they’re able to leave Egypt.  First, they must step up and identify themselves as ready to become free people by daubing their doorposts with blood.  They must take this risky step not because God needs to be able to find them–presumably God has other ways of doing that–but because there needs to be a change in how they see themselves.  Second, they must reconcile in some way with the Egyptians, who have suffered along with them at the same time as being their oppressors.  This is how some interpret the episode in which the Egyptians give the Israelites gifts before their parting.  There is a lesson here, a roadmap to how we can overcome oppression.  It is not enough for the oppressor to cease to oppress us.  There must also be a change in how we see ourselves, as well as an attempt to forge a new reconciled relationship with our former oppressors, before we can be truly free.