The Egyptians were impressed that the Jews didn’t steal their possessions during the plague of darkness, when they could have easily done so. People who are proven to be honest will always be admired!
By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel
The 10 plagues, as is well known, make a prominent appearance at the Passover Seder.
The Jewish people used the ninth plague, darkness, to better prepare for their exodus from Egypt.
The plague of darkness, as all plagues, did not affect the Jewish people; it only affected the Egyptians. As such, the Jews had light wherever they went.
The Jews used the plague of darkness to go through the homes of the Egyptians to see what each one possessed.
With the Egyptians not being able to even move due to the thick and utter darkness, the Jews had free rein to do what they wanted. The Jews made note of who had what and where it was kept.
Word got out that the Egyptians were so eager to get rid of the Jews that the Egyptians would even give the Jews their belongings in order to get them to leave! So before leaving Egypt, the Jews went to their Egyptian neighbors and asked to “borrow” some of their possessions needed for their journey into the wilderness.
When the Egyptians denied owning the items, the Jews would simply tell them that they knew they were lying and even tell them what the item looked like and where it was stored.
Interestingly, the Torah tells us that during this time the Jews “found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians.”
The Jews were essentially “relieving” their Egyptian neighbors of their most valuable possessions and the Jews found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians! You would think that the Egyptians would hate the Jews even more! What’s going on here?
Our sages explain that the reason the Jews found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians was because the Egyptians were impressed that the Jews didn’t steal their possessions during the plague of darkness, when they could have easily done so.
The Jews could have looted during those days of chaos, but they didn’t. The Egyptians were moved by the Jews’ restraint and honesty, and this is why the Jews found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. Those proven to be honest will always be admired!
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