Our ancestors in Egypt took a long time to grasp this crucial point. During 116 years of slavery and 80 years of sadistic oppression, it did not occur to them to appeal to God. Assimilated into the majority culture, our ancestors worshipped the idols of that time and place. They descended almost to the lowest level of spiritual impurity, forgetting the one Supreme Power taught by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Instead, they looked for their salvation to political changes, such as the advent of a new, more compassionate Pharaoh.
Only when Pharaoh died and his successor continued his oppressive policies did our ancestors despair of any amelioration of their condition through natural means. Only at that point, the Torah testifies, did they “cry out” to God. The next verse tells us that God immediately initiated the process of the Redemption.
The “crying out” that catalyzed the Exodus from Egypt was not what we would call prayer. They pronounced no words, no lengthy supplications, no eloquent appeals for Divine mercy. Rather, their crying out was a simple, inarticulate turning to God as the only source of salvation. Yet that basic recognition jump-started all the miracles of the Exodus.
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