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וישאל איש מאת רעהו ואשה מאת רעותה כלי כסף וכלי זהב

Let each man request of his fellow and each woman from her fellow silver vessels and gold vessels. (11:2)

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Hashem asked Moshe Rabbeinu to make a special effort to impress upon the Jews the significance of requesting silver and gold vessels from the Egyptians, because, if they did not leave Egypt with a sizable financial portfolio, Avraham Avinu’s neshamah, soul, would have a “complaint” against Hashem. She’lo yomar oso tzaddik V’avadum v’inu osam – kayeim ba’hem – v’acharei chein yeitzu b’r’chush gadol – lo kayeim ba’hem; “So that the righteous person (Avraham) should not say, ‘G-d carried out in full measure the prophecy that his offspring will be oppressed, but not the companion promise that they will leave their captivity with great wealth.’” The question is obvious: If Hashem made a promise, it should be kept regardless of “if” or “what” the tzaddik would say. A promise of wealth is a promise to which He must adhere. Second, what is the meaning of kayeim ba’hem, “He fulfilled them/carried out in full measure”? Ba’hem means in or with them; rather, it should have said la’hem, for them.

The Klausenberger Rebbe, zl, explains this practically. The criteria for defining who is a Jew should have parameters that extend beyond strict religious observance. A Jew who has yet to observe Shabbos, kashrus, etc. is still a Jew. The Rebbe was speaking following the European Holocaust, when the Nazis, yms”h, murdered us even if our Jewish pedigree had skipped a few generations. (In other words, even if a person was not Halachically biologically a Jew, the Nazis considered him/her as Jewish as long as his/her Jewish blood hailed back three generations. The Rebbe is not talking about such circumstances, because the person was not Jewish, according to Halachah.)

The Rebbe interpreted the statement in the following manner. In terms of being a slave, they were Jewish – they were enslaved, persecuted, afflicted and murdered. Kayeim bahem; they were kayeim, considered Jews. If so, then the second half of the promise must also be fulfilled in them. Let them have their rightful portion of the wealth. They have a right to it, because kayeim ba’hem. The wicked ones characterized them as Jews. The persecutors confirmed their Jewishness. They should, likewise, share in the reward.

The Rebbe employed this interpretation to explain David Hamelech’s statement in Tehillim 87:6. Hashem yispor b’ch’sov amim, “Hashem will count when He records nations.” The Almighty will count/consider Jews in accordance to the records of the gentiles. Hashem will count Jews based upon the criteria set by the gentiles, who do not concern themselves with the religious affiliation of Jews. As long as something connects individuals to our People, they view them as Jews. While Hashem will certainly not include those who are Halachically not Jewish, He will not exclude them, however, due to their lack of observance.

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