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Rabbi Jonathan Ganger
by Published on January 22, 2021


The value we place on family began early on during the exodus. For the first few encounters between Moshe and Pharoh, Moshe asks for three days in order to have a holiday for G-d. The first time, and for subsequent times, he asks that the people should be able to leave in order to celebrate G-d. It is not entirely clear if he means all the people or the people that are involved in the actual service of G-d, including sacrifices, which at the time was done by men (it was a bloody procedure).


After hail, the people of Egypt are desperate for the madness to end. They bring Moshe and Aaron to Pharoh so that they can be set free. There Pharaoh seems to specify who is allowed to leave. According to one commentary[1] he tell Moshes and Aaron, look around the world, the people who perform religious ceremonies are the elders and the men- those are the ones allowed to leave and you don’t need your wives and children to go. Moses responds, you don’t realize but it isn’t only a holiday for G-d, but a holiday for all of us, because part of our religious service includes happiness, and to be happy, we need our families with us. Pharaoh retorts, if so, ‘G-d will be truly with you’ and, I am not interested in that. He then changes his mind, and says no to the request to go with the family.


We learn several things from here. Part of our relationship with G-d needs to involve joy for our self and that joy comes from a time with family. More than that, this joy creates an enhanced connection whereby G-d is actually truly with us and no longer distant. It may feel at times that family takes away from what we want to accomplish in life but here we see it is the vehicle for what we are truly striving for, a vibrant connection to our Creator for joy is the process that open up our hearts to a greater reality.