* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
How does redemption begin? By crying out. This week we begin reading the book of Exodus, the story of leaving Egypt, and suddenly I noticed a small detail that appears before the plagues and all the miracles and wonders: "And the children of Israel sighed from their labor, and they cried out, and their cry ascended to God from their labor."
Our commentators explain: In order for any situation to change, we need, first of all, to want very much that it will change. To shout, to cry out, to pray that the current harsh reality will end. In the face of all our misfortune - for example, in the face of the cursed coronavirus that refuses to disappear from the world - do we cry out or just analyze and look at graphs?
Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, known as the Natziv, writes that the children of Israel at that time did not yet know how to pray. They had no formula for doing so. They were simple and unsophisticated people who just worked hard and the words of their cry were merely: "Oy vavoy, Hashem the God of our fathers," but that was good enough. The cry was heard and the next passage reads: "And God heard their cry, and God remembered His covenant with Avraham, with Yitzchak, and with Yaakov." In an instant, we brought about a paradigm shift. from horrible enslavement to divine intervention as God recalled His promise to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.
Thus the book of Exodus begins, but this is not a history book. It's a guidebook for the here and now, that we should learn to cry out in order to merit redemption from everything that enslaves us, nationally and personally, today.