slavery

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During Pesach, we celebrate our freedom from slavery in Egypt. In this pack, there are resources and activities on children's rights and slavery.

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1 These are the rules that you shall set before them: 2 When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment. 3 If he came single, he shall leave single; if he had a wife, his wife shall leave with him. 4 If his master gave him a wife, and she has borne him children, the wife and her children shall belong to the master, and he shall leave alone. 5 But if the slave declares, "I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free," 6 his master shall take him before God.

א וְאֵלֶּה, הַמִּשְׁפָּטִים, אֲשֶׁר תָּשִׂים, לִפְנֵיהֶם. ב כִּי תִקְנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי, שֵׁשׁ שָׁנִים יַעֲבֹד; וּבַשְּׁבִעִת--יֵצֵא לַחָפְשִׁי, חִנָּם. ג אִם-בְּגַפּוֹ יָבֹא, בְּגַפּוֹ יֵצֵא; אִם-בַּעַל אִשָּׁה הוּא, וְיָצְאָה אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ. ד אִם-אֲדֹנָיו יִתֶּן-לוֹ אִשָּׁה, וְיָלְדָה-לוֹ בָנִים אוֹ בָנוֹת--הָאִשָּׁה וִילָדֶיהָ, תִּהְיֶה לַאדֹנֶיהָ, וְהוּא, יֵצֵא בְגַפּוֹ. ה וְאִם-אָמֹר יֹאמַר, הָעֶבֶד, אָהַבְתִּי אֶת-אֲדֹנִי, אֶת-אִשְׁתִּי וְאֶת-בָּנָי; לֹא אֵצֵא, חָפְשִׁי.

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34:8 The Lord spoke to Jeremiah after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to grant their slaves their freedom. 34:9 Everyone was supposed to free their male and female Hebrew slaves. No one was supposed to keep a fellow Judean enslaved. 34:10 All the people and their leaders had agreed to this. They had agreed to free their male and female slaves and not keep them enslaved any longer. They originally complied with the covenant and freed them. 34:11 But later they had changed their minds.

(חַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר הָיָה אֶל יִרְמְיָהוּ מֵאֵת יְקֹוָק אַחֲרֵי כְּרֹת הַמֶּלֶךְ צִדְקִיָּהוּ בְּרִית אֶת כָּל הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בִּירוּשָׁלִַם לִקְרֹא לָהֶם דְּרוֹר:
(ט) לְשַׁלַּח אִישׁ אֶת עַבְדּוֹ וְאִישׁ אֶת שִׁפְחָתוֹ הָעִבְרִי וְהָעִבְרִיָּה חָפְשִׁים לְבִלְתִּי עֲבָד בָּם בִּיהוּדִי אָחִיהוּ אִישׁ:
(י) וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ כָל הַשָּׂרִים וְכָל הָעָם אֲשֶׁר בָּאוּ בַבְּרִית לְשַׁלַּח אִישׁ אֶת עַבְדּוֹ וְאִישׁ אֶת שִׁפְחָתוֹ חָפְשִׁים לְבִלְתִּי עֲבָד בָּם עוֹד וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ וַיְשַׁלֵּחוּ:

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For the rabbis, themselves living under foreign rule, it may have been inconceivable to imagine a situation in which Jews constituted the majority and non-Jews needed protection. Perhaps for this reason, the rabbis reconstructed the biblical mandate to protect the stranger as a warning not to discriminate against converts to Judaism. Such is the nature of the world: in times of personal struggle, it becomes difficult to look outward.

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It is not in the nature of humans, reared in slavery, in bricks and straw and the like, to wash their hands of their dirt and suddenly rise up and fight with the giants of Canaan. God in His wisdom contrived that they wander in the wilderness until they had become schooled in courage, since it is well known that physical hardships toughen and the converse produce faintheartedness. A new generation was born which had not been accustomed to slavery and degradation. [Hebrew translated from Judeo-Arabic]

כי כמו שאין בטבע האדם שיגדל על מלאכת עבדות בחמר ובלבנים והדומה להם ואחר כן ירחץ ידיו לשעתו מלכלוכם וילחם עם ילידי הענק פתאום, כי אין בטבעו שיגדל על מינים רבים מן העבודות ומעשים מורגלים, שכבר נטו אליהם הנפשות עד ששבו כמושכל ראשון, ויניחם כלם פתאום, וכמו שהיה מחכמת השם להסב אותם במדבר עד שילמדו גבורה, כמו שנודע שההליכה במדבר ומיעוט הנאות הגוף מרחיצה וכיוצא בהם יולידו הגבורה והפכם יולידו רך לבב, ונולדו גם כן אנשים שלא הרגילו בשפלות ובעבדות

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“You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

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“And you shall keep it...”

והיה לכם למשמרת וגו' מפני מה הקדים הכתוב לקיחתו של פסח לשחיטתו ארבעה ימים היה רבי מתיא בן חרש אומר הרי הוא אומר ואעבור עליך ואראך והנה עתך עת דודים (יחזקאל טז ח).

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