At the point of departure, the people of Israel were a nation of slaves in body, mind, and spirit.
They had no spiritual content or any real goal in life.
The only thing they did have was a vague sense of continuity, an obscure link with their forefathers.
This is what prevented them from assimilating completely with the Egyptians, and what prepared them for what they were about to be given.
Then came the call to depart from Egypt.
The very desire for freedom was a tremendous revolution in the soul of this nation of slaves; it was the awakening of the need for inner freedom that exists in the soul of every individual.
And although they did not yet know God, and had no idea as to how the Exodus would in fact occur—they believed.
The slaves had neither knowledge nor understanding, and yet they went out into an unknown and unmapped desert.
Such a spark of faith can enable those who possess it to overcome all dangers and obstacles.
True, this path of faith is almost bereft of profound intellectual content, but it creates a link that goes much deeper than that of any other kind.
It is a relationship of devotion, of inner oneness beyond perception, with the Divine.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From On Being Free, p. 38, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz