Finders Keepers?: Passover 2022

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever felt guilty about taking something? Did you eventually find a way to justify taking it? Or did you come up with some way to apologize or otherwise make up for your feelings of guilt?

The Torah reading for the first day of Passover mentions the haul that the Israelites takes from the Egyptians on their way out of bondage:

The Pitch: “The Israelites had done Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing. And Adonai had disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people, and they let them have their request; thus they stripped the Egyptians.” – Exodus 12:35-36

Swing #1: “The text says little about how the Israelites went about ‘plundering’ the Egyptians. They could not have gone up and down the whole length of the country; they only had time to demand payment from people in their immediate vicinity … The important point, however, is now how much wealth they got but that ‘plundering’ is something a victorious army does to a defeated army. With the death of the firstborn males, we have an image of Israel, under YHWH, triumphantly leaving the field of battle.” – Duane A. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus

Swing #2: “[The plunder was] just compensation for withheld wages. Think of all those free man-hours Pharaoh has obtained from the Hebrews. Surely they are entitled to some financial/material compensation.” – Victor Hamilton, Exodus

Swing #3: “All this wealth was in Israel’s possession until the days of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, when Shishak, king of Egypt, invaded Jerusalem and took them away from Rehoboam.” – Ein Yaakov

Late-Inning Questions: Do you sense that our commentators are comfortable with the Israelites taking from the Egyptians on their way out of town? Do their commentaries allow you to feel more comfortable? How do we compensate those who have suffered oppression? Is it up to us to demand compensation?

On-Deck at TBT: We wish all of you a happy and fulfilling Passover holiday. We hope that you’ll appreciate the moments you have with family and friends, however you connect with them.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of taking things, you might remember that Miller Lite Beer had many television commercials in the 1980s featuring famous sports figures. One of the funniest was between a baseball player (I forget which one) and a prominent cricket player. The cricket player asked how many bases the baseball player had stolen in his career. After hearing the number, the cricket player exclaims, “Where do you keep them all?!”

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Kasher v’Sameach!