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(1) The Talmud says: "[It was also taught in the baraita]: On Rosh HaShana our forefathers’ slavery in Egypt ceased. [From where is this known?] It is written : “And I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt” (Exodus 6:6); and it is written [with regard to Joseph]: “I removed his shoulder from the burden” (Ps. 81:7). [By verbal analogy of the word “burden”, just as Joseph was released from prison in Tishrei, so the slavery ended in Tishrei.]" [Rosh Hashanah 11b]

So we stayed in Egypt 7-8 months between being released from slavery and leaving for the Promised Land.

(2) Yet the Torah tells us we left Egypt in haste, and the symbol of the Exodus is the matzah -- the bread that did not have time to rise because we left in haste. In this week's Torah portion, Bo, we read: וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם אֶת-הַמַּצּוֹת And you shall watch over the matzot. [Ex. 12:17] The Maharal says that the lesson of the haste is that God Himself (and not human or natural forces) took us out of Egypt. God makes things happen very fast. We emphasize this in the Haggadah:

"I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night – I, and not an angel. And I will slay all the firstborn in the land of Egypt – I and not a seraph. And I will execute judgment upon all the gods of Egypt– I and not a messenger. I, God – it is I and no other." [Pessah Haggadah]

By remembering the swiftness of the exodus, we remember that God made it happen, whence the centrality of the matzah -- as opposed to the other symbols.

-So: How do we reconcile these two teachings? [Note that the first is a derivation, not a tradition passed down as fact.]

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    I'm not sure I see a problem: Just because slavery ceased a good half year or so earlier, doesn't mean they were allowed to leave then and there, or that they knew in advance when they would be leaving, so they could take their time preparing bread or provisions for the journey. What exactly needs to be reconciled? – Tamir Evan Jan 11 at 2:37
  • @ Tamir Evan -- Why would Pharaoh free the Israelites but not let them go? What did the Israelites do in these 8 months of "freedom"? What event triggered the Exodus? If God acts hastily, why wait 8 months? – Maurice Mizrahi Jan 11 at 16:11
  • @MauriceMizrahi Those are different questions than the one you asked. – Jay Jan 11 at 19:07
  • @MauriceMizrahi While I have answers to the question in your comment, they are not answers to the question that you actually ask above. – sabbahillel Jan 13 at 1:50

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