The beginning of the Parasha describes the radical deterioration in the stature of the Israelites in Egypt. The Torah repeats by name all the sons of Jacob who came to Egypt reflecting their greatness as individuals worthy to be mentioned by name, because like 'stars ' they gave off light and made a contribution to society. Their descendants are regarded as a group, no longer individuals, but the children of Israel. The Torah then describes the dramatic increase in their numbers in a somewhat derogatory way – they became many, swarmed – like 'insects' - conducting themselves like a swarm of insects and grew enormously in number and influence so the land became saturated with 'THEM'. They were called THEM – not only a people who have lost their individuality but they became a people without a name, like insects. This transition played into the hands of the Egyptians who were looking for a justification to persecute and enslave the Israelites. The Israelites began to leave Goshen and began to mingle in Egyptian society. They were seen as a group and not individuals and so they were perceived as a threat. According to the view in the Midrash, the king was dethroned,because he would not comply with the wishes of the people, to deal harshly with the perceived threat posed by the children of Israel. He felt it would be bad for Egypt and it was a lack of gratitude to Joseph who had saved Egypt from the famine. After 3 months he agreed to cooperate with the people and deal with the Israelite problem. He was reinstated and became a 'new king who did not know Joseph '.He was no longer willing to make the sacrifice for his values – showing gratitude and therefore is considered an ungrateful king.
In order to enslave the Israelites, and oppress them , and ignore the contributions, Joseph and his descendants had made to Egypt, the king began to objectify and dehumanize them. Even Joseph, no longer had a name.. Once you objectify and dehumanize people, the next step – being cruel to them is no problem. They were construed as a threat to the country and all evil including infanticide could be justified.
Moses, due to divine providence was raised as a prince in Pharaoh's palace. Only a prince, an individual with great stature could redeem Israel from Egypt. Moses empathized with his brothers and showed compassion. He began to intervene to improve the plight of the Israelite slaves as a group. But just as important were matters of the community – Tzibur, was the plight of each individual person and here too we see Moses intervene on behalf of individuals.
The treatment of the Israelites by the Egyptians was extreme, abusive and cruel, but in certain ways it shared something common with traditional parenting. Traditional parenting focuses on ' doing to ' the child as opposed to ' working with ' the child. Traditional parenting seeks to control and manipulate children's behavior by being contingent, consistent using the tools of control - punishments, consequences, praise and rewards. The way the child experiences ' being done to' and love and privileges made conditional on behavior and grades in school is not a factor. A child's concerns, perspective or how he sees the world through his own eyes is totally ignored. What concerns the parent is behavior, not the whole child, the motives, feelings and underlying values behind the behavior.
The alternative is to work with the child, supporting his autonomy so we focus on the whole child and the development of his unique character and potential in the context of caring community of learners. We can help him develop a love for learning, discover his unique contribution and connect to God by focusing on what he does and not on how well he does. If we get rid of judgment, kids can develop in stature and become leaders impacting on society and God's presence in the world. Unfortunately the focus is on mass education and trying to get each kid to fit a certain mold and look the same. The tools of mass education are the consequences, rewards, praise and punishments and a focus on grades and competition rather than focusing on developing the uniqueness of each individual child and making him into a potential leader. The difference is expressed in the leadership of Pharoah or Moses.