Dvar for Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)
G-d informs Moshe of the final plague and tells Moshe to “please ask them [the Jewish people] to borrow… silver vessels and golden vessels” (11:2). Rashi explains that leaving Egypt with wealth would satisfy a promise G-d had made to Avraham. However, G-d could have easily made gold and silver available through other means, and G-d’s use of the word “please” in this instance is so noteworthy that it warrants analysis.
Rabbi Henach Leibowitz (Majesty of Man) suggests that the people’s request for gold and silver was meant to instill a sense of self-worth within them, compensate them for their hundreds of years of slave labor, and teach them to speak up for themselves. Respecting themselves enough to stand up for their rights isn’t something that can simply be taught; it needs to be practiced. G-d’s request was the beginning of the Jews’ transformation into a nation that fights for what is right and deserved and can be a lesson for us as well. G-d’s appeal not only teaches us that it’s right to stand up for ourselves, but that we should regularly engage in advocating for what others rightfully deserve.