By: Chaya Sora Jungreis-Gertzulin
“Bo el Pharaoh.”
“Bo” is understood in this context as “to go”, for HaShem is instructing Moshe to go to Pharaoh and plead on behalf of the Jewish people.
The word “bo” is usually translated as “to come”, while the Hebrew word for “to go” is “leich”. (For example, when HaShem said to our Patriarch Avraham “lech-lecha”, meaning “go for yourself”.)
Why does the Chumash use the word “bo”?
HaShem is telling Moshe, and all future generations, that we are never alone, that He is always with us. “Bo – Come with Me.” HaShem is always by our side.
Of course, Moshe had his fears. It was Moshe who said “Mi onichi ki eileich el Pharaoh – Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh.”
Moshe also voiced concern about Pharaoh listening to his words, as he had a speech impediment. “Va’ani aral sefosayim – And I have sealed lips.” (Shemos 6:12)
HaShem, who knows our innermost thoughts, and can see into our hearts and neshamos, said to Moshe, “Bo – Come with Me. Don’t be afraid. You are not alone.”
We all have “Pharoahs” in our lives, be it financial insecurities, health problems, family and other interpersonal relationship issues, or workplace challenges. No one is immune from life’s trials and tribulations. Life can be stressful, at times even traumatic. We may feel alone, abandoned, without anyone to turn to. But, in truth, we are never alone. HaShem is always by our side.
Dovid HaMelech, King David, who lived with so much pain and suffering, composed Tehillim, the Book of Psalms. Through his words, he gives us all much hope and strength. He reassures us that when we cry out, HaShem hears our tefillos and sees our pain. “He who implants the ear, shall He not hear? He who fashions the eye, shall He not see?”
Elsewhere, King David writes “I lift up my eyes to the mountains… my help comes from HaShem, Maker of heaven and earth.”
Whenever we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, know that HaShem is always with us. Ready to guide us, ready to direct us and calm our fears.
The Kotzker Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk (1787-1859), was known for his sharp, wise comments.
An agnostic man once approached the Rebbe saying, “I’m searching all over for G-d, but I can’t find Him.” To which the Kotzker promptly responded, “G-d can be found wherever He is given entry.”
HaShem is ready to say “Bo – Come with Me”, we just have to let Him in.
My mother a”h, would make a point of asking HaShem to help her find the proper words when teaching and lecturing. Before speaking, she would say a silent prayer from Psalm 51, the prayer that precedes our daily Amidah. “HaShem sifasai tiftach – HaShem, open my lips, ufi yagid te’hilosecha – that my mouth may declare Your praise.”
We all have our “Bo” moments in life. Times when we truly feel the need for HaShem’s presence to be with us.
Several years ago, I had to undergo a difficult eye surgery. As I was being wheeled into the OR, I kept repeating to myself words from the bedtime Shema. “Besheim HaShem Elokei Yisroel… In the name of HaShem, the G-d of Israel, may (the angels) Michoel be at my right, Gavriel at my left, Uriel before me, Rephael behind me, v’al roshi Shechinas Kayl and above my head, is the presence of HaShem”.
A short little tefillah that I say to myself whenever the going gets tough. Words that give me encouragement. Words that give me hope. I am reminded that I am not alone, but that HaShem is with me.
HaShem Himself is watching. Our reaction to trying times should be to pull out a Tehillim, and say a few Psalms. To connect to HaShem. While we may not understand His ways, we should have the emunah and bitachon, to say HaShem, I tried and now I am humbly in Your hands. As Dovid HaMelech says in Tehillim, “Tov l’chasos b’HaShem, mib’toach b’odom, It is better to place one’s trust in the protection of HaShem, than to rely on man.” (Tehillim 118:8)
My mother explained that a reason we use the phrase “sholom aleichem”, in the plural form, even when greeting an individual, is because no Jew is ever alone. We are in the constant company of HaShem’s malochim, protecting us and guiding us through our life’s journeys.
Praying, and actually feeling, that HaShem was with me, calmed my anxious spirit, and gave me peace of mind, heart and soul.
When my “babysitting services” includes putting grandchildren to sleep, I say the Shema with them. The words of the Shema make a most beautiful lullaby. I sing to them the passage of being surrounded by HaShem’s angels. Angels that will protect them throughout the night. I tell that HaShem is watching them from Above. They fall asleep with the assurance that they are being protected on all sides.
This week’s parsha closes on a high note. Yes – Bnei Yisroel are really going to be leaving the hardships of Egypt behind them. After so many years of slavery and oppression, all may have seemed lost and hopeless. Yet, HaShem showed that in an instant, miracles can happen, and Bnei Yisroel was about to experience freedom and independence.
The Midrash Lekach Tov on Megillas Esther teaches that “yeshuas HaShem ke-heref ayin – the salvation from HaShem can come as quick as the blink of an eye.”
Just as HaShem walked with Moshe, and walked with the Jewish nation, so too, does He walk with us. When everything seems dark, when we think that we are at the end of the rope, let’s remember the message of “Bo”. Come with me.
Chaya Sora can be reached at email@example.com
This article was written L’zecher Nishmas / In Memory Of HaRav Meshulem ben HaRav Osher Anshil HaLevi, zt”l and Rebbetzin Esther bas HaRav Avraham HaLevi, zt”l