6 The Egyptians dealt harshly with us and oppressed us; they imposed heavy labor upon us.
va-ya-RAY-u o-TA-nu ha-mitz-REEM vai-a-NU-nu va-yi-t’-NU a-LAY-nu a-vo-DAH ka-SHAH
ו וַיָּרֵעוּ אֹתָנוּ הַמִּצְרִים וַיְעַנּוּנוּ וַיִּתְּנוּ עָלֵינוּ עֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה׃
26:6 The Egyptians dealt harshly with us
Ironically, the Hebrew word in this verse for ‘dealt harshly with us,’ vayareiu (וירעו), also contains the word for ‘friendship,’ reiut (רעות). By choosing this term, the Torah is making a subtle observation about the origins of Hebrew slavery. At first, the Egyptians befriended the Jews. It was only later on that they gradually began to institute discriminatory laws, persecution and finally slavery. This pattern, where a host nation invites Jews in and offers protection, but as time goes on the hospitality runs out and anti-Semitism creeps in, has repeated itself throughout Jewish history. Only in the State of Israel can safety and security be guaranteed to the Jewish people permanently.