The haggadah says, “This year, we are here; next year, in the Land of Israel. This year, we are slaves; next year, free men!”
We are still in exile today. The exile of Egypt was a difficult one, with bricks, mortar, and back breaking work. While today’s is one of abundance and wealth, so much so that sadly, people often do not realize that they are still in bitter Exile. It is like:
A prince rebelled against his father. The irate king exiled his son to a place far from the palace, decreeing that the rebellious prince must do hard labor and working with is hands.
Now the prince had never done any work at all, and he was completely unaccustomed to hard labor and working with is hands. He immediately sent his father a letter, begging for forgiveness and promising faithfully that he would never again do anything to challenge or disrespect him.
The letter touched the king’s heart, and he granted to the prince’s request and returned him to the palace as before.
Sadly, after a while, the prince forgot all that had happened and again rebelled against his father. The angry king exiled the prince once again, to the same land and to the same hard physical work.
When the king’s son saw that he was truly in a terrible situation, he wrote to his father once more, begging for mercy and forgiveness, and promising that he would never repeat his wicked actions.
The king received this letter and thought to himself, “My son writes to me now only because he finds himself in great distress, and not because he truly wishes to he close to me. If I forgive him and return him to the palace, he will once again sin against me.
“So instead, I will release him from the hard physical work in his exile—but not return him to the palace. Instead, I will support him there, in his exile, bountifully and pleasantly. Now, if my son truly wishes to return to my home, he will send me a letter with that request. But if he does not send me such a letter, I will know that he is not really devoted to me, and that all of his requests to return stemmed only from the hardships that he suffered there.”
When the Jewish people were in Egypt, the Egyptians burdened them with hard labor and working with is hands. The Jewish people cried out to Hashem, Who hurried to redeem them and take them out of Egypt. Sadly, after the Jewish people returned to the Land of Israel, they sinned against Him. As a result, the Holy One, blessed be He exiled them among the nations, where today many of them enjoy pleasant and easy lives.
If, from this comfortable exile, the Jewish people still cry out to Hashem and beg to return, this is a clear sign of their sincere, desire for Hashem’s love, But if they do not ask to return from this exile, it is a sign that they seek only a life of ease and comfort.