After suffering from many of the plagues and finally enduring the plague of locusts, Pharaoh gives the Children of Israel permission to go. The Torah quotes Pharaoh as saying to Moshe and Aharon: LECHU IVDU ET HASHEM ELOKECHEM, MI VAMI HAHOLCHIM, “…go worship your God, who are they who will go?” (Ex. 10,6)
Pharaoh’s statements seem a bit out of order. First he should have asked who will be going and then grant them permission to leave. Instead he first tells them they can go and then asks who will be going.
A Rabbi once explained that what Pharaoh was saying was, yes you can go but let us see who is willing to leave this land and go with you to wander in the wilderness. He understood quite well the psychology of people and knew that even though the people have been enslaved they still would prefer to stay in the land to which they are accustomed and will not be readily willing to leave. Indeed, Chazal tell us that only a fifth of the people were prepared to leave Egypt.
History repeated itself when the Jews were granted permission after the Babylonian exile to return to the Promised Land, very few were ready to give up the life style they had created in Galut.
Unfortunately we see the same mentality repeating itself today when Jews can return to Israel but prefer the comforts of Galut. Not all can pick up and leave but many can and don’t.