“Come with Me”
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
This week’s parasha is titled Bo, which literally means “come.” On this parasha we are told about the last three of the ten plagues. Many commandments appear on the last part of the parasha.
The first verse of this Torah section read, “The Lord said to Moses: “Come to Pharaoh…” The meaning of this order seems to be “Go to Pharaoh,” but, as I already wrote, the literal meaning is, “come to Pharaoh.” Why is this and what can we learn from this?
According to the famous Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (better known as the Kotzker Rebbe, Poland, 1787-1859, he was a Hasidic rabbi and leader), this verse hints to God’s omnipresence. Since God is everywhere all the time, you cannot really walk away from God. As it is written in Isaiah (6:3), “the whole earth is full of His glory.” Therefore, God tells Moses, “come, let us go to Pharaoh.” Moses cannot go alone, because God is always with him.
Rabbi Chanoch Zvi of Bendin (another Hasidic rabbi, Poland, 1870-1935) gives a similar interpretation, but he has a more personal and intimate approach. According to him, God is trying to reassure Moses while he is sending him to fulfill a hard and delicate mission. God is telling Moses, “come with me and we will go to talk with Pharaoh together.”
I like this approach! God is sending Moses to announce to Pharaoh that more plagues are coming if he does not allow the Children of Israel to go. It is a dangerous mission. However, even when He is sending Moses on a dangerous mission, He is going with him; He will not leave Moses alone.
This is an important lesson for all of those who take a leadership position and need to ask people under them to go on missions, or to achieve a certain assignment. It could be a general commanding his soldiers, or a diplomat instructing his people. Or it could be a teacher asking one of her students to do some specific task, or even a parent who sends his child to fulfil a specific goal. In any case, the request to a person to comply with something specific will be much more successful if the person knows that he/she is not alone.
Now you know, next time you need to ask someone to go on a specific mission, make it clear that you will be there for him/her. In the Jewish tradition, we don’t send nor leave people alone.