This week's parasha contains the last 3 of the 10 plagues and the final departure of the Jewish people from Egypt. It opens with the words "Come to Pharaoh because I have hardened his heart." The Kotzker Rebbe asks why it says, "Come to Pharaoh" when it seems it should say "Go to Pharaoh"? He answers simply that, with G‑d, the word "come" is appropriate while the word "go" (which implies leaving) is not. This is because "the entire world is filled with His glory". Now, those of us who were paying attention will remember that last week we did have a verse that said, "Go to Pharaoh". (Ex. 7:15) Is this not a contradiction? The grandson of the Kotzker, the Shem MiShmuel, reminds us that this was said in connection with Pharaoh going to the Nile. If you look in Rashi for the reason why Pharaoh went each morning into the water, you will understand why it is not appropriate to mention a word that infers our constant closeness to G‑d in this context. Come - come with Me. I will be with you and I will protect you

Other sources, including the Baal Haturim, give a different explanation: "Going" to Pharaoh was always dangerous, but particularly at that moment before the plagues of hail and locusts, when he was almost at wit's end. Then, as always, when we endanger ourselves to help others, the Almighty says, "Come - come with Me. I will be with you and I will protect you."

On the words "I have hardened his heart," Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotshuv explains as follows: When we become totally focused on our "I" we close up our ability to feel; therefore, the verse can also be read as, "The 'I' in us has hardened the heart...." Jews are supposed to have soft hearts.

The Torat Emet points out that the numerical value of the two main words at the beginning of the portion, "Bo" and "Pharaoh", together equal 358, the numerical value of the word "Mashiach". The redemption from Egypt was the source and empowerment of all the coming redemptions of the Jewish people, until the last and final redemption that should come soon and quickly in our days. This was hinted in the verse last week in which G‑d answers Moses' question about what is His name to tell the people. The answer was, "I will be who I will be." Rashi explains that G‑d was promising that just as He is with us in this difficult exile in Egypt, so He will be with them in the future exiles. Similarly, all of the future redemptions are based on this redemption. Thus, parashat Bo depicts the very beginning of the final redemption for all of the Jewish people - wherever and whenever they may be, according to each person's own root in the Torah. …we must carry all of these sparks out of exile with us

"And [the Egyptians] granted their request, and [the Israelite nation] emptied out [in Hebrew, "nitzlu"] Egypt" (Ex. 12:36) is a very important verse. As we were exiting Egypt, we collected everything of value from the local inhabitants. Rashi explains the word "nitzlu" as "they emptied". The Talmud says that they emptied Egypt like a net emptied of fish, in order to fulfill the promise G‑d made to Abraham that they would leave with great wealth. Ultimately this wealth was used by the nation to serve G‑d while they were in the desert. In these times immediately before the final redemption, every Jew should therefore make certain that he uses every physical thing he comes into contact with in this world in the proper way. Every physical object has a spark of holiness exiled within it. When we use these objects properly, we redeem these sparks and allow them to return to their divine source. We will soon leave exile, and we must carry all of these sparks out of exile with us. In this way, the exile will have served its purpose. The exiles began in order to collect the sparks. The exiles will end when the sparks are redeemed.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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