This week we read the Torah portion Bo. The Parshah begins with Hashem’s command to Moshe, “… Come to Paroh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, in order that I may place My signs among his nation.” Rashi explains why Moshe was commanded to come to Paroh, with the words “and warn him.” In other words, Moshe was commanded to come to Paroh in order to warn him of the consequences of not listening to Hashem.
We need to understand this; in the very same verse where Hashem tells Moshe to come to Paroh in order to warn him against his negative actions, we are told that Hashem has hardened his heart. It would seem that the purpose of warning him is in order that he change his attitude and do Teshuvah for his past misdeeds. However, if Hashem hardened his heart, how could he possibly do Teshuvah?
The explanation is based on a teaching in Tanya. There are a number of instances regarding which the Sages say that one is not given the opportunity to do Teshuvah. The Sages are particular with their language. The do not say that he is prevented from doing Teshuvah; they do not say that the power of Teshuvah is withheld from them. Rather they say that he is not granted the opportunity to repent. “However, if he pressed forcefully and overpowered his evil impulse and did repent, his Teshuvah is accepted.”
Despite the fact that Hashem hardened his heart, he still had the free will to strengthen himself and do Teshuvah. By writing that Moshe’s purpose of coming to Paroh was in order to “warn him,” Rashi teaches us that even Paroh had the ability to do Teshuvah; after all, the reason for warning someone is in order that he actually heeds the warning.
This teaches us, that one must never feel that he is too far gone to return to Hashem. Paroh, the wicked king of Egypt who enslaved the Jews and refused to listen to Hashem and allow the Jews to leave, was able to repent, i.e. return to G-d. How much more so is this true of each and every one of us. The Rambam tells us that when the Jews do Teshuvah, they will immediately be redeemed. So may we see the immediate redemption now.
Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 6, Page 65
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR MOTHER
Mrs. Brocha bas Reb Tzvi Nechemiah Hacohen O.B.M. Cohen
Passed away on 8 Shevat, 5778
May Her Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
DEDICATED BY HER FAMILY
* * *
מרת ברכה בת ר’ צבי נחמי’ הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטרה ביום ח ‘שבט, ה’תשע”ח
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יוצא לאור ע”י בני משפחתה שיחיו
. Our Parshah, Shemos 10:1.
. For the following, see Igerres Hateshuvah, end of Chapter 11.
. See Talmud Yoma 85, b.
. Laws of Teshuvah, Chapter 7, Paragraph 5.