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ALL MY CHILDREN

by Michael Alterman    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

After the plague of locusts, Pharaoh asks Moses which Jews he wanted to take out. Moses responds frankly to the king, ". . .We will go with our young and old alike" (Exodus 10:9).

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After the plague of locusts, Pharaoh asks Moses which Jews he wanted to take out. Moses responds frankly to the king, ". . .We will go with our young and old alike" (Exodus 10:9). It seems odd that Moses would mention the young before the old. Out of respect, shouldn't the elders be given priority in Moses' response?

Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Binyomin Sofer (also known as the K'sav Sofer), the leader of non-Chassidic Hungarian Jewry in the middle decades of the 19th-century, gives an enlightening answer to this question. He suggests that the younger generation needed to be rescued as soon as possible. These children were brought up in Egypt, in the depths of immorality. They were therefore lacking a proper spiritual upbringing. Their connection to Jacob and the Holy Land was very distant, both physically and spiritually. They had never even met any of their seventy ancestors who had originally descended to Egypt. Of course, the elders also needed to rid themselves of the influences of Egyptian culture, but the children required immediate attention. Get them out of there fast, as soon as possible. It was only after the youth had left that the older generation could leave the land of Egypt.

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Michael Alterman, who hails from Atlanta, is currently a sophomore at Yeshiva University in New York.

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