On the passage in which G‑d reveals His name as,1 “I Will Be Who I Will Be,” the Midrash comments2 that G‑d forcefully redeemed the multitude from Egypt, even those individuals who were wicked. However, those who did not want to leave Egypt died during the three days of darkness.3

G‑d redeemed the Jewish people from Egypt because, as stated in this week’s portion of Shmos, they are “His firstborn son.”4 He tells Pharaoh5 to “send out My son so that he may serve Me.”

The redemption of the Jews from Egypt thus came about because all the Jews in Egypt, even the lowliest, were considered by G‑d to be His children, and the connection between a father and child is so essential that it is not subject to deterioration or change.

G‑d’s relationship with every Jew is thus so strong that, in the words of our Sages:6 “Whatever the case [whether you are good or not], you are called [My] children, [therefore,] exchanging them for another nation is impossible.”

This being so, why weren’t all the people redeemed from Egypt?

Furthermore, during the Egyptian exile, there were different categories of evil people among the Jews,7 up to and including idolaters…8 so much so that there were individuals who left Egypt with their idols in hand.9 Nevertheless, all the Jews managed to take part in the exodus. Why then were those who did not want to leave Egypt excluded from the redemption? How were they different from the rest?

Consider. According to Rebbe ,10 Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi, the very day of Yom Kippur brings atonement for all sins, even if the sinner himself does not atone. However, Rebbe admits that if a person transgresses the prohibitions of Yom Kippur itself, such as eating and drinking on that day, then Yom Kippur will not atone for these sins.11

Since, according to Rebbe, Yom Kippur atones even for the harshest of sins,12 why does it not ameliorate the sins of Yom Kippur itself?

The Rogatchover Gaon answers:13 Since these sins pertain to Yom Kippur itself, Yom Kippur serves as a “cause” for them, i.e., the sins came about through the very day of Yom Kippur. It follows that the cause of a sin cannot simultaneously act as its atonement, for “a prosecutor cannot become a defense attorney.”14

On a more esoteric level, the explanation is as follows: Yom Kippur reveals the essential bond between every Jew and G‑d, a bond that transcends iniquity.15 However, sins relating to Yom Kippur itself block the revelation of this bond with G‑d. It is therefore impossible for the bond to serve as a basis of a person’s forgiveness for sins committed on Yom Kippur, since these very sins obscure this bond.

The same is true with regard to the Exodus: The arousal from above that brought about the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt was predicated upon the revelation of G‑d’s bond as Father of His children.

Since this connection is not subject to change, it resulted in the freeing of all the Jews from Egyptian bondage, even those who were wicked, for “Whatever the case, you are called [My] children.”

But those Jews who refused to leave Egypt, choosing to remain “slaves to slaves” — the very antithesis of devotion to G‑d, and surely in complete opposition to the relationship implied by the phrase “My firstborn son” — placed themselves in a different category:

By their refusal to leave, they opposed the very revelation of the essential bond between G‑d and all Jews. It was thus impossible for this revelation to serve as the grounds for their redemption, because “a prosecutor cannot become a defense attorney.”

Nonetheless, this was only so regarding the redemption from Egypt. Concerning the future Redemption, the Torah assures us that all Jews, without exception, will be redeemed.16

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, pp. 1-4