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ויאמר משה בנערינו ובזקננו נלך בבנינו בצאננו ובבקרנו נלך כי חג ד’ לנו

Moshe said: With our youngsters and with our elders we shall go, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flock and with our cattle we shall go, for the festival of God is to us

In all too familiar fashion, Moshe warns Pharaoh of an upcoming plague, reprimands him for his continued obstinance in refusing the Jews a short furlough to bring sacrificial offerings in the desert, and leaves without effecting any change in Pharaoh’s hardhearted stance. This time, however, Pharaoh’s lackeys had had enough. Fed up by the prospect of their remaining produce being eaten up, they protest. “How long will this continue to be our downfall?”, they cry. “Don’t you realize that Egypt is lost!?!”

Blown over by this brilliant observation, Pharaoh decides it may be worth rethinking his approach. And so, he calls back Moshe and Aharon to his inner chambers. “Go ahead and serve your God”, he says, “just tell me, who exactly is going to be going on this little sacrificial excursion of yours?”

To which Moshe responds, “With our youngsters and with our elders we shall go, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flock and with our cattle we shall go, for it is a festival of God to us”.

Moshe was not known to enjoy socializing with Pharaoh, and his long-winded response is therefore baffling. Why couldn’t Moshe simply respond, “All of us”? Why the detailing of all the individual groups? Additionally, why does Moshe respond that “we shall go with our youngsters and elders etc.”, instead of answering that “our youngsters and elders etc. will go”? And where do the animals come into this conversation? Didn’t Pharaoh ask who was going, not what was being brought along? And to top it all off, Moshe concludes by reminding Pharaoh that they were going “for it is a festival of God to us”, as if Pharaoh may have forgotten. What in Heaven’s name, was Moshe saying in Heaven’s name?

Apparently, Moshe sought to reeducate Pharaoh as to the very nature of the trip. “Who is going?”, asked Pharaoh. Obviously, Pharaoh assumed, not everybody would be obligated to partake in the sacrificial proceedings. Who, then, he wondered aloud, would dispense the collective obligation?

To which Moshe responded: The question is not who shall be going; the question is with whom shall we go! God did not ask us to sacrifice on His prefabricated festival; He entrusted us with the mission of creating a festival for Him to the best of our abilities for our own benefit.

“For the festival of God is to us“. God gave us the gift of a lifetime, an opportunity to create a festival of God in which to bask, and we are not about to give it anything less then our all to make it the experience of a lifetime. We are no more inclined to start bickering over who exactly is obligated to attend than is the lottery winner interested in arguing over how much paperwork he has to fill out to claim his jackpot. We intend to pull out all the stops so that this golden opportunity afforded to us by God is realized to its fullest potential. We will summon the vigor of our youth, the wisdom of our seniors, the tenacity of our sons, the passion of our daughters, and even the sheer numbers of our livestock to make the festival God has allowed us to partake in, the most uplifting event it can possibly be.

God gives us commandments.

And yet, He is not so much telling us what we must do, as he is revealing to us what can be done.

By us.

For ourselves.

Do we really need to be asking: Who exactly must go? What exactly is the minimum I must do?

Or should we ask:

How can I maximize this experience? Which tools can I utilize to mine this gold, and how can I make this gold mine…. mine?

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