“And the king of Egypt died and the children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out. Their outcry because of the work went up to Hashem”(2:23)
Based on an interpretation of the Midrash, Rashi explains that Pharoah did not pass away but that he was struck with leprosy, which is comparable to dying. In an attempt to cure his ailment, every day Pharoah would slaughter three hundred Jewish infants, so that he could bathe in their blood.
The Midrash explains, that this was the source of Bnei Yisrael’s screams which went up to Hashem.
However, the verse gives a different reason for why the Bnei Yisrael cried out. The verse suggests that they cried out because of their “avodah” – the oppressive work load which they were forced to assume, not because their children were being slaughtered.
There are times when an individual can be called upon to give up his life in order to save the king. Such times should be limited only to situations in which the threat to the king’s safety is also a danger to the Nation. An individual is not required to give up his life in order to save a monarch from his illness.
Chazal teach us that Pharoah did not perceive himself as a mere mortal monarch, rather as a deity, requiring total devotion, respect and admiration from his subjects.As a result of this belief and as a show of loyalty and devotion to him, Pharoah demanded that the Bnei Yisrael give up their children for his personal well-being. In Pharaoh’s eyes, this was dedicated service rather than murder.
Consequently, there is no contradiction between the Midrash and the verse, for the avodah – the service from which the Bnei Yisrael were screaming out in anguish, was the service which Pharoah required of them.
Wishing you and your family a Chag V’Kasher Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!