The Israelites leave Egypt carrying new morals and faith with them.

The process of the Israelites becoming a nation shows that the birth of a nation is not only a physical process – the actual exodus from Egypt, but also involves a substantial process of shaping self-identity, according to one’s own beliefs and values – faith in God, and a proper world of values based on how one perceives the other, respect, justice, and equality.

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The plagues as part of the Israelites’ emerging identity

Exodus 7-12

In this unit we will deal with two aspects related to the Israelites’ identity, as expressed in the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the Ten Plagues. We will learn about the value of gratitude which the commentators explain from the way the plagues of blood, frog and lice were inflicted. We will learn about the opportunity that was given to the Israelites to strengthen their confidence and faith in God, when they were “set aside” [discriminated] during the slaying of the firstborn, which was the most severe of all the plagues, and from the commandment to borrow vessels from the Egyptians.

El éxodo de Egipto. Mapa con explicaciones

Unit Knowledge Goals

Objetivos de conocimiento en la enseñanza de la unidad

Objectifs pédagogiques de cette unité

  • Understanding the message of gratitude that the commentators learned from the manner of inflicting the plagues.
  • Understanding the concept of “discrimination” in relation to the Israelites’ situation during the Egyptian plagues.
  • Familiarity with the commandment to borrow vessels during the Exodus.
  • Understanding the moral values that the Israelites learned from the commandment to borrow the vessels.

Pédagogie

Pedagogy

Pedagogía

Teaching Practices
Pratiques pédagogiques
Aconsejamos enseñar esta unidad a través de la siguiente práctica pedagógica
SEL
Aprendizaje social y emocional
ASE

Self awareness: recognizing and reflecting on strengths and weaknesses, identifying emotions.

Background for Teaching the Unit

Contexto de la unidad didáctica

Résumé de l’unité et valeurs centrales

We learn from the story of the Exodus of values ​​and beliefs that should characterize the Jewish People. The commentators learned about “gratitude” from the manner in which plagues – blood, frogs, and lice – were inflicted on the Egyptians. Following is how Rashi explains the fact that Aaron was the one who inflicted the plagues of blood and frog by striking the Nile River:

“Because the river had protected Moses when he was cast into it, therefore it was not smitten by him neither at the plague of blood nor at that of frogs, but it was smitten by Aaron” (Rashi on Exodus 7:19). This is how Rashi explains the infliction of the plague of lice by Aaron who strikes the dirt of the land: "The dust did not deserve to be smitten by Moses because it had protected him when he slew the Egyptian, for ‘he hid him in the sand’; and it was therefore smitten by Aaron" (Rashi on Exodus 8:12). The Nile River protected Moses when he was placed in the basket on the water and was saved from Pharaoh's edict to kill all Jewish babies. The dirt of the land protected Moses by burying the Egyptian man who killed the Hebrew man in it (Exodus 2:12).

During all the plagues that struck Egypt, the Israelites were separated and did not suffer from them. The separation of the Israelites was expressed in an explicit and clear way during the slaying of the firstborn:

“And there shall be a loud cry in all the land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again;

but not a dog shall snarl at any of the Israelites, at human or beast—in order that you may know that ה' makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Exodus 11:6-7).

Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam) explains the phrase “but not a dog shall snarl at any of the Israelites” – “the angel harms and injures the firstborn of Egypt, but even the barking of the destructive animals will not harm the firstborn of Israel." This is an opportunity for the Israelites to recognize God's providence and strengthen their faith in Him.

Before leaving Egypt, the Israelites are commanded to take vessels, silver, and gold from the Egyptians: “Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold” (Exodus 11:2).

The borrowing of the vessels also teaches us about the opportunity given to the Israelites to recognize God’s strength and greatness.

By borrowing the vessels, they are fulfilling God's promise to Abraham in the Covenant between the Pieces: “but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end they shall go free with great wealth” (Genesis 15:14).

This promise was also mentioned to Moses at the Seneh:

“Each woman shall borrow from her neighbor and the lodger in her house objects of silver and gold, and clothing, and you shall put these on your sons and daughters, thus stripping the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:22).

Recognition of God's strength and greatness is intensified by the very idea that a nation of slaves is coming out of Egypt with great possessions.

While studying the story, you will find different interpretations of the meaning of “borrowing the vessels” as quoted in Exodus. One of the opinions expressed by the commentators is that the Israelites took the property as compensation for their hard and endless work in Egypt. This reality is echoed by the issues of reparations and compensation that Holocaust survivors received from Germany, which raises the question – to what extent is it justified, and even possible, to compensate a person from whom so much was taken; maybe even his life was taken from him. (You can read about the compensation agreement here).

Another issue expressed in the commandment to borrow the vessels is that the Israelites are taking an active role in their Exodus from Egypt.

Just before they go free, they are personally fulfilling God's promise to Abraham, and subsequently to Moses at the Seneh.

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וַיִּתֵּן ה' אֶת חֵן הָעָם בְּעֵינֵי מִצְרָיִם
גַּם הָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה גָּדוֹל מְאֹד בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם
בְּעֵינֵי עַבְדֵי פַרְעֹה וּבְעֵינֵי הָעָם

“ה’ disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people.
Moreover, Moses himself was much esteemed in the land of Egypt,
among Pharaoh’s courtiers and among the people”

Activité d’introduction
Actividad de apertura
Opening Activity

In the previous lesson we discussed the fact that in the story of the Israelites’s exodus from Egypt, God presents an alternative to the Egyptian faith and culture, based on their evil ways and lowly morals. In this lesson it seems that the birth of the Jewish People brought about the news of a proper and moral world of values, under God’s leadership.

We will ask the students to think about values and qualities that are essential for maintaining a nation from the very beginning. The activity is attached here:

List of Values Needed for a Nation

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Learning the Story
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4:3:EN:2:1

Embarking on a new path highlights a proper world of values

The commentators learned the lesson of “gratitude” from the manner in which several plagues – blood, frogs, and lice – were inflicted on the Egyptians.

The students will read the verses, answer questions after studying Rashi's commentary, and consider the value of “gratitude” in their own lives.

The activity is attached to the worksheet – The value learned from the plagues of blood, frogs and lice.

The students will be able to start the activity using the attached presentation.

Additional suggestions for discussions on “gratitude”:

-          Every day write down what I am thankful for.

-          Give people at school small gifts to thank them for something good they did for me.

In the plenary – discuss the following questions:

1. The students will share expressions of “gratitude” in their lives.

2. We will ask the students to imagine the Israelites leaving Egypt with a backpack on their shoulders. Based on the study of “gratitude,” deriving from the story of the plagues, what values or insights do the Israelites take with them as they are leaving Egypt?

3. Why do you think that the commentators chose to emphasize the learning of such an important value from the story of the birth of the Jewish Nation?


Separation of the Israelites during the slaying of the firstborn – a lesson in faith

We can learn a message of faith from the separation of the Israelites during the slaying of the firstborns.

If we look again at the diagram describing the Exodus from Egypt, it seems that the Israelites are given another opportunity to strengthen their faith in God.

Let’s read Chapter 11, Verses 6-7 once again:

“And there shall be a loud cry in all the land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again; but not a dog shall snarl at any of the Israelites, at human or beast—in order that you may know that ה' makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel”

The verses emphasize the separation of the Israelites during the slaying of the firstborn, in comparison to the fate of the Egyptians. While the Egyptians were sounding a “loud cry,” the Israelites were not harmed at all. Even a dog did not snarl at the Israelites.

We will ask: How do the Israelites feel after being saved from the slaying of the firstborn, while the Egyptians around them were killed?

 

Borrowing the vessels – from the promise to Abraham until the Exodus. A lesson in faith.

During the slaying of the firstborn, the Israelites were commanded to borrow vessels.

1. In the plenary we will review Chapter 11, Verse 2:

“Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold.”

The Israelites must borrow silver and gold vessels from the Egyptians.

In Chapter 12 we read how this actually took place:

“The Israelites had done Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing. And ה' had disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people, and they let them have their request; thus they stripped the Egyptians.”

We will ask – why should the Israelites borrow vessels from the Egyptians when leaving Egypt?

2. We can offer different answers offered by commentators and ask the students to choose an opinion that they can use to describe this act to a Jewish journalist documenting the borrowing of the vessels.

Attached in the file: Borrowing the Vessels.

In this assignment, the students will be asked to express their opinion on the question – was it justified that the Israelites took the vessels? We can discuss this question in class and find out if it was justified, and whether it is even possible to compensate a person who has had so much taken from him, maybe even his life.

  • The Israelites did as Moses, who was a prophet, told them to do. This is how they actually fulfilled God's commandment (Or HaChaim, 12:35) “Do as Moses said – meaning not for the pleasure of the money, but to fulfill the commandment of a prophet.”
  • This way the Israelites received compensation for their endless work or a reward for their years of slavery in Egypt (See Rabbi David Zvi Hoffmann's commentary on 12:35).
  • The Israelites intended to return the vessels, but since Pharaoh pursued them and his army drowned in the Red Sea, they considered these vessels to be spoils of war and kept them. (See Rabbi David Zvi Hoffmann's commentary on 12:35).
  • The Israelites took the vessels in exchange for the property they left behind when they left Egypt (estates, fields and houses). Rabbi Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser (the Malbim) comments on Chapter 11, Verse 6, saying that they were commanded to borrow from their neighbors, as this was not considered robbery, because the neighbors were going to take the Israelite’s household vessels and houses and fields that would remain in Egypt, and these are worth as much as the silver vessels that they borrowed from them...).

3. We will refer the students to the verses from Genesis 15:13-14, quoting God's promise to Abraham:

“And [God] said to Abram, “Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years; but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end they shall go free with great wealth”

When God tells Abraham that the Israelites will be slaves in Egypt for 400 years, He mentions the fact that they will not leave Egypt emptyhanded and will leave with great wealth at the end of the period of slavery.

A similar message was given to Moses at the Seneh (Exodus 3:20-22):

“So I will stretch out My hand and smite Egypt with various wonders which I will work upon them; after that he shall let you go. And I will dispose the Egyptians favorably toward this people, so that when you go, you will not go away empty-handed. Each woman shall borrow from her neighbor and the lodger in her house objects of silver and gold, and clothing, and you shall put these on your sons and daughters, thus stripping the Egyptians.”

We will ask:

1. In your opinion, why is it important to note that the Israelites left with great wealth?

2. How can these verses explain the commandment to take silver and gold vessels from the Egyptians?

We will give the students the diagram that describes the Israelites from the time they cried out to God because of the hardships of slavery until the cry of the Egyptians was heard during the slaying of the firstborn. The students will work in groups, look at the diagram and consider the situation of the people as reflected in the diagram. They will also discuss the purpose of the plagues (Exodus 7:5) – “And the Egyptians shall know that I am ה'” (Exodus 8:6); “that you may know that there is none like our God” – also in regard to the Israelites.

The activity is attached here: The Israelites During the Plagues.

We will return to the assignment in the plenary:

How do the following three statements express the significant process that the Israelites experienced:

  • God's promise to Abraham is fulfilled in the commandment to borrow vessels from the Egyptians during the slaying of the firstborn.
  • It is significant that a nation of slaves is redeemed with great wealth.
  • During the slaying of the firstborn, the Israelites are no longer passive. The nation has received a mission (the one described here and other tasks that the people must do before leaving Egypt).

We saw that when the Israelites borrowed the vessels, they were fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham, according to which He would bring them out of Egypt with great wealth. The very fact that God kept his promise may strengthen the Israelites’ faith in Him, and the recognition of the fact that He is watching over the world. The story of the birth of the Jewish nation publicizes the message that God's Hand directs everything that is happening in the world.

The borrowing of the vessels also reflects the process that the Israelites experienced; from crying out in despair to God, until becoming an active player in the exodus from Egypt. Just before the Jewish people go free, they themselves fulfill God's promise to Abraham, and then to Moses at the Seneh.

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Résumé
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Summary

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Summary Activity for Students

We will present the commentators’ explanations (Mishna Pesachim 10:5) on the board:

“In each and every generation a person must view himself as though he personally left Egypt”

as well as the diagram of the story of the Exodus; from slavery to freedom.

The story of the Exodus has many stages. The Ten Plagues are a central and significant stage in this process.

We will ask the students to offer as many answers as possible to the questions:

1. Why is it so important for each Israelite to view himself as if s/he had personally left Egypt?

2. How can a Jew view the story of the plagues as connected to his life today?

We will ask –

In light of the discussion on these questions - what purpose can there be in presenting the plagues, other than: the redemption of the Israelites and showing the strength of G-d to the world and to the Egyptians.

The activity is attached here: In each and every generation a person must

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