G-d instructs Moshe on how to go about freeing the Jews from Egypt. The first directive is to approach the elders of Israel and remind them of the promise made to their forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, and to inform them that G-d sees what is being done to His people in Egypt (3:16). What is the significance of identifying the forefathers by name at this point? Also, why is the first step of redemption to speak to the Jews about the logistics of their emancipation and not approach Pharaoh directly in order to request permission to make the journey?
The Lekach Tov explains that the first step in changing the Jews’ circumstances is to have faith that things will improve, and only then can G-d do His part in saving them. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch adds that G-d references the forefathers at this point to indicate that our relationship to G-d is not dependent on social status. While Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were wealthy and prominent members of society, the Jews were, in stark contrast, currently slaves. It is only natural for the people to feel inferior and unworthy. Thus, Moshe’s first message is directly to his people, reaffirming their value as individuals and as a people. Knowing our self-worth liberates us so that we may pursue the happiness we deserve.