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A revealing Targum – the first step of slavery

Written by D Fine

The pasuk (1:8) tells us that ‘a new king reigned over Egypt; one that did not know Yosef.’ The Targum translates this as ‘a new king reigned over Egypt; one that did not renew the laws of Yosef.’ What does this mean? The Brisker Rav explains that when Yosef was in power, he made sure to enact laws which favoured the Jewish People; he legislated that they be exempt from taxes, and at one point they were even financed from the royal coffers. But the ‘new king’ of Egypt’s first step in ushering the Jewish People’s into slavery was to rescind those laws that Yosef enacted. We see fromhere the importance and relevance of ‘small actions;’ here, it was a small action (of rescinding Yosef’s laws) which was the first step in putting the Jewish People into slavery which lasted for generations.

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