So, I hear from a Midrash, I believe, that when B’nai Yisrael left Egypt, not all the Jews left. I don’t think it’s pshat.
There was a similar issue just after Purim where the majority of Jews in Persia chose to stay, rather than return with Mordechai, Ezra, and Nechemia. But I digress…
The question is whether anyone familiar with the story of the Jews who stayed behind in Mitzrayim were staying because they loved Egypt or, and this is what I’m really questioning, they were dead.
If the Jews who “didn’t leave” Egypt didn’t leave because they died, is it possible they died because they didn’t stay inside during the plague of the first born.
I know this sounds like a joke but hear me out. The part of the pshat that I am very familiar with goes to great lengths to tell people to stay in their homes while the plague “passes over” the houses.
For those lacking sufficient food, you were encouraged to share the pascal lamb with your neighbor.
In the past, I’ve really enjoyed Rabbi Soloveitchek’s take that this was a decidedly unique act of someone who is “free” since slaves don’t share food.
But now, as we approach Passover, I’m seeing it a bit differently. Perhaps the plague passed over and people were stuck in their homes. Perhaps they were there for more than one night as we hear that the blood that was smeared on the door posts of their homes wasn’t just the blood of the lamb but a mix of lamb and the blood of the circumcision.
And the need to invite friends over to participate – and also stay isolated in the home until morning – could simply be because, after all the other plagues, there just wasn’t much food left.
And so, maybe, just maybe, those of us who see the angel of death wiping out so many people with so many more to come, can better identify with our ancestors who stayed inside until death passed over.
And maybe those who didn’t “leave Egypt” were unable to because they didn’t follow Moses advice and they left their homes and died in the plague.