No longer could the children of Israel endure their terrible suffering and persecution at the hands of their cruel overlords.

Their cries for help, their supplications and prayers, coming from the very bottom of their hearts, pierced the heavens. G‑d remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and decided to deliver their descendants from bondage.

Moses was eighty years old, and his brother eighty three, when they entered the palace of King Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the two brothers what they wanted.

The message sounded like a command: "Thus had the Lord G‑d of Israel said, `Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the desert.' "

Pharaoh haughtily refused, saying that be had never heard of the G‑d of the Israelites, and that His name was not registered in his list of gods of all nations.

He further accused Moses and Aaron of a conspiracy against the government, and of interfering with the work of the Hebrew slaves.

At Moses' suggestion, Aaron then performed the miracles G‑d had enabled him to perform, but Pharaoh was not greatly impressed, for his magicians could do almost as well.

On the same day, Pharaoh ordered his supervisors to increase the demands on the children of Israel and to make

their burden still heavier. If they had time to think of liberty and worship of G‑d and similar ideas, quite unbecoming to slaves, then they must be getting too much leisure, Pharaoh thought.

Whereas they had been supplied with the raw materials heretofore, they now had not only to produce the same amount of labor, but in addition, they had to produce their own raw material for the bricks.

The children of Israel were physically unable to cope with such an impossible task, and they suffered even more than before. In desperation, the children of Israel bitterly reproached Moses and Aaron for making their fate even worse, instead of helping them.

Deeply hurt and disappointed, Moses prayed to G‑d. G‑d consoled him and assured him that his mission eventually would be successful, but not before Pharaoh and all of Egypt would be smitten by terrible plagues, in order to be adequately punished for oppressing the children of Israel.

The children of Israel would then see and recognize their true and faithful G‑d.