Exodus 10:1 – 13:16
The time had come.
The Hebrew slaves were on the brink of release. Moses, their leader, gathered them together. They fell silent, anticipating what he was about to say.
What would he speak about at this monumental juncture? He could have spoken about many things. He might have talked about liberty, the breaking of their chains, and the end of slavery. He might have talked about the destination to which they were about to travel, the “land flowing with milk and honey”. Or he might have chosen a more somber theme: the journey that lay ahead, the dangers they would face on their long road to freedom. Any one of these would have been the speech of a great leader at an historic moment in the destiny of Israel.
Yet…Moses did none of these things. Instead he spoke about children, about the distant future, about the duty to pass on to generations yet unborn the profound experience of the Exodus. Three times in this week’s Torah portion he turns to the theme:
And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite?’ you shall say … (Exodus 12:26-27)
And you shall explain to your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt’ (Exodus 13:8)
And when, in time to come, your child asks you, saying, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him… (Exodus 13:14)
About to gain their freedom, the Israelites were challenged to become godly parents. Moses urged them to become a nation of educators who would invest their energy in making sure that successive generations knew what God had done for His people. This in part is what made Moses not just a great leader, but a unique one.
In this admonition of Moses to the people, we learn that freedom is won and maintained, not on the battlefield, nor in the political arena, nor in the courts, national or international, but in the home. You see, to defend a country you need an army. But to defend a free society you need strong families. You need parents that are not too busy to teach their children by word and example the ideals of godly living. You need homes and schools that work together to, as King Solomon wrote in the Proverbs, ‘train up a child in the way that he should go.’
Children are a precious gift of God. With the gift comes great responsibility. That child is not yours; he or she is on loan from heaven, sent to this earth and into your care with a divine purpose and destiny, the greatest of which is the opportunity to get to know God and to love Him and live by His Word.
Not everyone is a parent, but we all have opportunities to influence the young. One of the greatest things we can do is listen when a child or teenager wants to speak. Listen long enough to really hear what they are trying to say, avoiding impetuous responses before hearing the whole story.
To this day, every year at Passover, Jewish parents tell the Exodus story again to their children and grandchildren, lest we forget that slaves become free men only by the Hand of God. Slavery as an institution has been greatly diminished but what about spiritual slavery? Are we ‘enslaved’ to careers, to negative behaviors, to greed or selfishness? What do our children see?
In Tune with Torah this week = asking ourselves, ‘What do I model before others? Are my children and/or grandchildren knowledgeable about the God of Israel because I’ve taken the time to talk with them about Him and His Torah? And more importantly, can they see by my lifestyle that God is first and foremost in my life?
PS. Several new subscribers have joined our online Bible Study this week, posted on our sister site. If you’d like to check it out, go to: Coffee and Commentary