Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them.” — Exodus 10:1
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means “come,” from Exodus 10:1–13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13–28.
The name of this week’s Torah portion is Bo. It comes from the words: “Go to Pharaoh . . . ” While the word Bo is translated as the word “go” in this verse, the literal translation of the Hebrew word is “come.” The verse would literally read, “Come to Pharaoh.” Certainly, “Go to Pharaoh” makes more sense. So why doesn’t the verse use the Hebrew equivalent of the word “go”? What’s the meaning behind the word “come”?
Jewish tradition teaches that at this point Moses was hesitant to continue on his mission. He was growing weary, and Pharaoh was still very powerful. Doubts began to creep in. Could he really complete the task that God had given to him?
God understood how Moses felt. So He said to him, “Come with me and together we will go to Pharaoh.” The Scripture records an abbreviated version of this statement which hints to this behind-the-scenes insight. It said, “Come to Pharaoh.” God was telling Moses that he was not alone, that God was right there with him. All Moses needed to do was come and follow Him.
Did you know that according to Jewish tradition only one-fifth of the Israelites left Egypt? That’s right! Four-fifths of the Israelites (2.4 million of them) never made it out. In fact, according to tradition, they chose not to leave!
These people weren’t interested in leaving the only place they knew for some unknown destination in the future. In this week’s Torah portion God said to Moses and every Israelite, and even every Egyptian, “Come with me!” Some Egyptians joined the Israelites and chose to follow God. But sadly, four-fifths of the Israelites chose to stay behind.
Friends, if you listen closely you can still hear the call of God saying, “Come with me!” He puts it out there every single day! Every man, woman, and child has the opportunity to follow God wherever He may lead them each day. But it’s scary and uncomfortable, and we don’t know where God will take us.
Many of us choose to say, “No, thank you,” and we stay right where we are. We don’t take that risk that our hearts say we should. We don’t speak up when we know that we should. We don’t take the actions that we know are God’s will. But where does that path lead?
Remember friends, the ones who played it “safe” in Egypt got left behind. Let’s choose to follow God, wherever He may take us. For wherever He goes is the only place to be.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President