This quotation, from this week’s Torah reading, is surely one of the most well-known phrases in the Bible. And I have often pointed out that it’s really a half-quote, distorted, read as a cry for freedom. In actuality, G-d is telling Pharaoh to give the Jews a new, Divine Master: “Send out My people, that they may serve Me!”
But when you think about it, there’s no contradiction. We are trained to think that “freedom” means the ability to do whatever you want. But when was the most care-free time of your life? Most of us would answer, our childhood. And who are the happiest children? Those who are confident in both their parents’ love, and their guidance. Both of those are critical: the happiest children are not those with no rules, but those with clearly-defined guidelines, enforced with fairness and love.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken
Director, Project Genesis – Torah.org