This week we read the Torah portion Bo. The Parshah begins with Hashem’s command to Moshe, “… 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 Moshe to come to Pharaoh 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 Pharaoh to warn him against his negative actions, the Torah tells us that Hashem has hardened his heart. It would seem that the purpose of warning him is to 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 several instances regarding which the Sages say that one is not given the opportunity to do Teshuvah. The Sages are particular with their language. They do not say that he is prevented from doing Teshuvah; they do not say that the power of Teshuvah is withheld from them. Instead, 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.”
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 even Pharaoh could do Teshuvah; after all, the reason for warning someone is so that he heeds the warning.
This teaches us that one must never feel too far gone to return to Hashem. Pharaoh, 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 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
DEDICATED IN HONOR OF THE LUBAVITCHER REBBE
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
DR. MINDEL RIVKA (MURIEL) BAS REB MENACHEM MENDEL SHLOMO ע”ה STITT
PASSED AWAY ON SHABBAT PARSHAS LECH LECHA, 10 MAR-CHESHVAN, 5782
MAY HER SOUL BE BOUND IN THE ETERNAL BOND OF LIFE
IN HONOR OF
The Soldiers of Tzivos Hashem Chaim and Aiden Oded שיחיו Morris
DEDICATED BY THEIR PARENTS
Rabbi & Mrs. Menachem M. and Chaya Mushka שיחיו Morris
. 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.