Shmot - A Holy Scream

And now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression that the Egyptians are oppressing them.
וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה צַעֲקַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בָּאָה אֵלָי וְגַם רָאִיתִי אֶת הַלַּחַץ אֲשֶׁר מִצְרַיִם לֹחֲצִים אֹתָם
Shmot 3:9

The Kedushat Levi explains that when a man is in mortal danger his instinct is to cry out for help to a higher power, but not in submission to worship, simply to get help, acting in his own interest. This was the cry of Am Yisrael in Egypt. They were not crying out to connect to Hashem and say that we want to serve you and become a Nation to Hashem, but they had reached a point of suffering that they couldn't take any more and they cried out in desperation for help.

How do we know this?

The verse says:  I have heard their cry because of their slave drivers, for I know their pains.

The cry is strictly about their own pain and shows no desire to serve Hashem or to become Hashem's Nation.

2 Favors

Says the Kedushat Levi, on this background Hashem did to amazing acts of kindness to Am Yisrael. The first is that He redeemed them from Egypt, despite there lack of conviction for a relationship with Hashem. There scream was both in desperation and selfish. Nevertheless, Hashem took them out of Egypt and removed them from their place of suffering.

The second is how Hashem approached the scream of the Jewish People. Despite the scream being motivated for basic self-preservation, Hashem approached the scream as if this were the scream that the Jewish people were asking how to serve Hashem and to become the Nation of Hashem.

How do we see this reflected in the text?

It says:

I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry because of their slave drivers, for I know their pains.
רָאֹה רָאִיתִי אֶת עֳנִי עַמִּי אֲשֶׁר בְּמִצְרָיִם וְאֶת צַעֲקָתָם שָׁמַעְתִּי מִפְּנֵי נֹגְשָׂיו כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת מַכְאֹבָיו

Shmot 3:7

In light of this situation, Hashem still refers the Jewish people as "My people", as if they themselves had declared their own connection to Hashem.

Benefit of the Doubt

Reb Levi Yitzhak from Berditchev is known as the great defender of the Jewish people and there are many stories of how he goes to great lengths to look at a Jews merit despite their obvious, external flaws.

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