The medrash on the words וחמושים עלו ממצרים says that only one out of fifty went out of Mitzrayim. Is this to be understood literally, and if yes, why was it so?
When the rasha asked a question in the way that shows he wasn’t so loyal, so the father had to say, אילו היה שם לא היה נגאל – had he been there he wouldn’t have been redeemed. So you see, only the good ones were redeemed. Now how many? Echod m’chamishim, one out of fifty could be just a loshon, an expression, but really we don’t know exactly how many. But there’s no question that not everybody was redeemed from Mitzrayim. Some say guzma’os, exaggerations: the Mechilta says that chamushim is echod m’chamesh mei’os – that only one in five hundred came out! It’s very hard to understand that. But whatever it was, not everybody left Mitzrayim.
What happened to the others? They were destroyed; they went lost. A tragedy of tragedies. The Torah doesn’t blame them because they were under the influence of a shibud for two hundred and ten years. Two hundred and ten years is a very long time and it’s very hard to be oimed b’nisayon, to be tested for so long.
They were all bnei olam haba, no question about it; but they didn’t fully utilize the opportunity. But there were those who did utilize shibud; those who utilized all that Hakadosh Baruch Hu did for them, and for them, the tzaros, the difficulties they encountered in Egypt were of greatest benefit for them. All the persecutions made them feel they were privileged more and more, that they were the ones set apart for Hashem. לפום צערא אגרא – According to the difficulties, so is the reward. V’lo shinu, v’lo shinu, v’lo shinu. “We’re not changing a thing,” they said. They didn’t change their names. Even their clothing, they didn’t change. And therefore, those who went out of Mitzrayim were the ones who deserved to go out because they fought back against the environment.
But as far as exactly how many didn’t go out? We don’t know. But we know enough to say that it was a tragedy that there were people who didn’t fulfill the main purpose of life of fighting back against the environment. They fought back, but not enough, not enough.
And Hakadosh Baruch Hu wants of us that we should all our lives build up a strong conviction that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is with us, כי עמנו א-ל, that Hashem is with us forever and ever, and thereby gain the strength to fight back against the outside environment that creeps into our lives.
TAPE # E-104