Beshalach: Gold Chasers and Grave Diggers


Before the Israelites left Egypt, some chased after gold and some chased after graves — both upon the express command of G-d. Who was right? A lesson about priorities.

Lesson Contents:

A. The Plundering of Egypt

Before G-d took the People of Israel out of Egypt, he commanded them to plunder Egypt of all its wealth (Source 1). The Jews responded enthusiastically (Source 2). Then, as the splitting of the sea, the Jews gained even more wealth from the drowning Egyptians (Source 3). According to the Talmud, every Jew left Egypt with ninety donkeys laden with gold and silver (Source 4).

The Rebbe cites the Chassidic teaching that the Jewish people “gained” from their experience in Egypt. On a most basic level, they amassed great wealth. But there was certainly more to it.

B. Spiritual Earnings

According to Kabbalah, there were many Divine sparks hidden in Egypt, and the plundering of its gold and silver was to redeem them (Source 5).

The Rebbe explains that for Jews, material and spiritual success are integrated. The great wealth also had a lot of spiritual meaning. Essentially, they weren’t just chasing money; there was profound meaning to their project.

C. Who is Wise

This entire lesson seems to turn on its head with Source 6, which praises Moses for searching out Joseph instead of chasing money. But wasn’t the plunder an express command from G-d?

The answer, the Rebbe says, is about choosing your priorities correctly.

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