Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Bo

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This week we read the Torah portion Bo. The Parshah begins with Hashem’s command to Moshe[1] “… Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, so that I may place My signs among his nation.” Rashi explains why Hashem commanded Moshe to come to Pharaoh, with the words “and warn him.” In other words, Hashem commanded him to go to Pharaoh to warn him of the consequences of not listening to Hashem.

We need to understand this. The very same verse where Hashem tells Moshe to come to Pharaoh to warn him against his negative actions tells us that Hashem has hardened his heart. It would seem that the purpose of warning him is so that he changes his attitude, and does Teshuvah for his past misdeeds. If Hashem hardened his heart, how could he possibly do Teshuvah?

We can explain this according to a teaching of the Alter Rebbe in Tanya[2]. There are several instances regarding which the Sages say that Hashem does not grant one the opportunity to do Teshuvah[3]. The Sages are particular with their language. They do not say that Hashem prevents him from doing Teshuvah. What they do say is that Hashem does not give him the chance to repent. “However, if he pressed forcefully and overpowered his evil impulse and did repent, his Teshuvah is accepted.”

Although Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart, he still had the free will to strengthen himself and do Teshuvah. By writing that Moshe’s purpose of coming to Pharaoh was to “warn him,” Rashi teaches us that he too was able to do Teshuvah; after all, the reason for warning someone is to see to it that he heeds the warning.

The above teaches us that one must never feel that he is too far gone to return to Hashem. The wicked king of Egypt who enslaved the Jews and refused to listen to Hashem and allow the Jews to leave Egypt was able to repent, i.e., return to G-d. How much more so is this true of every one of us.

The Rambam tells us[4] that when the Jews do Teshuvah, they will immediately be redeemed. So too, may we see the immediate redemption now.

I wish one and all a good Shabbos and a good month!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 6, Page 65

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י חתנו ובתו שיחיו
הרה”ת ר’ שמואל ורבקה שי’ מענדלסאהן

[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 10:1.

[2]. For the following, see Igerres Hateshuvah, end of Chapter 11.

[3]. See Talmud Yoma 85, b.

[4]. Laws of Teshuvah, Chapter 7, Paragraph 5.

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