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RABBI'S PARSHA 

 

SHABBAT BO

 

“And G-d said to Moses, “Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants in order that I shall perform My signs in his midst. And in order that you shall speak into the ears of your son and your grandson that I toyed with Egypt and of the signs which I dealt to them, then you will know that I am G-d.” (10:1-2)

                  The commentators ask why G-d commanded Moses to “come to Pharaoh.” Why didn’t He use the more standard “go to Pharaoh”?

 

                  Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin explains that this expression is used when speaking to a person who is undecided about what to do and where to go. In such case, his friend coaxes him gently along by saying, “Come.”

 

                  Here, too, Moses was vacillating. What was the point of going to Pharaoh? If he had indeed been sincere when he had said (9:27-28), “G-d is righteous … and I will send you out,” why go to him again? Surely, the release of the Jewish people was imminent. If, however, he had no intention of keeping his word, why give him another opportunity? Why not let him stew in his own juices and suffer all the punishment that was coming to him?

 

                  G-d addressed both of Moses’ concerns. First, He told Moses “Come to Pharaoh,” indicating that he need not concern himself as to whether or not Pharaoh had repented—he hadn’t! Neither need he be concerned that he would thus enable Pharaoh to avoid the full punishment coming to him: G-d “had hardened his heart and the heart of his servants in order that I shall perform My signs in his midst.”

 

                  The Maggid of Dubno asks: Seeing that G-d told Moses that He “had hardened Pharaoh’s heart,” it follows that Moses’ mission to Pharaoh was doomed from the beginning. Why then send him to Pharaoh at all?

 

                  The Maggid of Dubno explains that the verse is demonstrating clearly,  that above and beyond punishing Pharaoh for his villainy, the spectacle of the plagues was meant also for the benefit and edification of the Jewish people—to reinforce their faith and fear of Heaven, and to make them worthy of receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai. As the Torah (Devarim 6:22) tells us, “And G-d performed signs and great and terrible wonders against Egypt and against Pharaoh and against his entire household before our eyes.” The main purpose was that it should be “before our eyes.” Therefore, though it be a foregone conclusion that Pharaoh would turn a deaf ear, it was still worthwhile for Moses to come before him. It would result in the spectacular display of the plagues, which would be of great benefit to the Jewish people.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

 

Rabbi Jonathan Horowitz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sat, January 28 2023 6 Shevat 5783