Question: The iconic image of the Exodus is of enslaved Jews, taskmasters, building pyramids, etc. When Pharoh finally tells Moses to leave with his people, he also tells Moses to take their flocks and herds with them. How is it that the enslaved Israelites had their own animals?
Answer: Great question! It seems from the first chapter of Exodus and the Talmudic explanation of it (see Rashi’s commentary, go to chabad.org/library) that it was more of a national enslavement than a personal one. The Jews seemed
to have lived separate from the Egyptians (Jews lived in Goshen) so they had a few animals.
All the Best,
Rabbi Meir Goldberg