Asking for Gifts

The demand by Hashem to “ask” of the Egyptians gold and silver utensils is a bit troubling.

Rabbeinu Bechaye makes a point of explaining that the word, “ושאלה” is not meant to be translated as “borrow” or “ask”. The intention was that it was to be a permanent gift.

Rabbeinu Bechaye goes on to explain that there is a precedent for such gifts regarding the Hebrew slave. At the end of his serving his Jewish master, the Torah requests, הענק תעניק לו, that we are commanded to give a מענק, or gift, as a sign of gratitude. If this is the practice for six years of labor, then certainly it is due to a nation that labored for 210 years.

This explanation clarified the justification for the gifts received in Egypt.