“Don’t worry, it will get easier. Don’t worry, I’m sure things will get better.”

As heartening as these words may seem, most people who are in a difficult time of their life often hear these would-be comforting words as pedantic banter, a hollow promise of a future they just can’t envision.

This is precisely what happened to the Children of Israel. Enslaved to the Egyptians, they struggled to envision a different future for themselves. Thus it is recorded that their reaction to Moses’ declaration of God’s promise to redeem them from slavery and take them up to the Land of Israel was less than enthusiastic. The Israelite’s reaction is recorded in one verse: “And Moses spoke so [all that God had told him to say to the Children of Israel] but they did not listen to Moses because of cruel bondage” (Exodus 6:9).

The commentaries explain Israel’s strange response as reflecting how weary the Israelites were from their enslavement, so weary that they could not even spare the energy to think about the hope they carried deep within them. But that is all that the Torah records of their reaction, or lack thereof. The very next verse reports God speaking once again to Moses and instructing him to go directly to Pharaoh. The Israelites who had groaned in their oppression no longer had the ability to hear words of hope for the future and so it was finally time for action.

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