1.

For months Moshe and Aharon were pleading with Pharoah to “Shalach et ami” — “Let my people go.” He was inflicted with a number of plagues that destroyed his land and brought havoc to his people. Yet he remained stubborn and obstinate. After enduring seven plagues, he somewhat began to yield and said to them “Lechu ivdu et Hashem — “Go serve your G‑d” — “mi vami haholchim” — “which ones are going?”

This sounds strange! Was Pharoah deaf or stupid? Didn’t they repeat their request succinctly and explicitly, “Let my people go”?

Pharaoh, slowly but surely, began to realize that fighting Moshe was a lost cause. Instead of being stubborn and refusing to let the Jewish people go, he decided to use reverse psychology. Pharaoh said to Moshe, “I am your friend who would not want to see you as an outcast or a failure. Many years have passed since you left Egypt. I know the people better than you do. I do not doubt your sincerity in wanting to take them to serve Hashem, but I urge you stop your campaign because, mi vami haholchim — which ones are going? None of these people are interested in leaving Egypt to go seek a new way of life.”

Moshe smiled and replied, “You are greatly mistaken. Just open the doors and give them freedom, and I assure you that young and old, men and women, will eagerly run to serve Hashem.”

Now let’s analyze Moshe’s response:

Telling Pharoah “Binareinu uvizkeineinu neileich ki chag l’Hashem lanu” — “With our youth and our elders we will go because there is a festival for Hashem” — is also somewhat difficult to understand, He could have simply said one word in answer to Pharaoh’s question, “Who is going?” “Everyone!” Also what does the chag — festival — have to do with it?

Firstly, they were telling Pharoah. We are going to celebrate a Yom Tov — a joyous day of festivity. When only elders celebrate and the youth are not together with them in body, soul or spirit, the mood of the participants is sad and downcast. The gathering is far from a joyous festive event.

But why did they prioritize “ne’areinu” — our youth — and why the seemingly superfluous word “neileich” — “we will go?”

Permit me to answer this based on a personal experience.

In the 1980’s the Lubavitcher Yeshivoth underwent an accreditation review of its eligibility for the students to benefit from certain Government funds. As part of this process, a group of academicians and a Rosh Yeshiva visited us. One of the academicians, Professor Albert Schild, interviewed our talmidim and was fascinated by their tales of mivtzaimmitzvah campaigns — and Merkos Shlichus experiences.

At the exit visit we met with the team and they shared with us their impressions. Prof. Schild told us that he visited many yeshivot but was amazed at the maturity level of our students. “At a young age,” he commented, “you are already training them to be leaders.”

Moshe was, similarly, telling Pharoah, “You are underestimating our people and particularly our youth. Our youth are very sincere and serious; they are eager to learn and accept the truth. They are not just students and followers, but educators and leaders. “Yes, Pharoah,” Moshe said, “binareinu” — with our youth — neileich — we will go forward — with them we will go on to illuminate the world with Torah and Yiddishkeit.”

My dear Bar Mitzvah, judging from the talents you exhibited tonight, I am sure Moshe Rabbeinu had you in mind, too. He meant you and the likes of you when he said “binareinu neilach” — with our youth we will go forward and reach many destinations and surmountable heights. It is our prayer that you always be a member of his team, the ones through whom neilach — we will go forward and mark up great victories for Torah and Yiddishkeit. Study Torat Moshe diligently and keep going from rank to rank in his army. You will thus be a valued asset to your family and Klal Yisrael. Mazel Tov.


2.

In the Haggadah we read on Pesach at the seder, there is a discussion of the four sons. Interestingly, three of them are alluded to in this week’s parshah, Bo, while the fourth is in Chumash Devarim (6:20). The three in our parshah are the Rasha, Tam, and She’eino yodei’a lisheol.

The Rasha and Sh’eino yodei’ah lisheol are quite well-known and need no elaboration, but who is the Tam — the simple son? Rabbi Nissan Telushkin (1881-1970), in his sefer HaTorah V’ha’olam, has a beautiful explanation about the Tam.

A Chassid of the Mezeritcher Maggid (Rabbi Dov Ber [1700 circa-1772], successor to the Baal Shem Tov) once traveled to be with his Rebbe for Pesach. The winter had been severe and the roads were bad. When he reached a small village near Mezeritch, the sun was setting and it was impossible to go on before Yom Tov.

The local innkeeper invited the distressed Chassid for Pesach and promised him a beautiful kosher Seder. The innkeeper and his sons said the Haggadah with tremendous hitlahavut — enthusiasm. The sons asked the questions, and their father answered with great joy.

When they got to the “Four Sons” they said, “Chacham, what does he say?; Rasha, what does he say?” — all with a special emphasis and with smiling countenances unlike that of the rest of the Haggadah. When they came to “Tam, what does he say?” they became very sad, saying it with choked voices and with tears. And when they came to the answer, “With a strong hand Hashem took us out of Egypt,” they read it with great happiness.

The Chassid could not understand their strange Haggadah reading, which made it seem that they did not know where to be sad and where to be happy. The same thing happened on the second night, with the same tears, and the same joy.

When he came to the Maggid, he told how sad he was not to be at the Maggid’s Seder, and his great wonder at the innkeeper’s Seder. The Maggid calmed him and said it was worth being away for Pesach to sit with the innkeeper and his sons, “I happen to know them” he said; “They are great tzaddikim and know the true intentions of the Haggadah.” The Maggid continued:

The Haggadah complains bitterly about the foolishness of man’s ways. People pay attention to the so called Chacham (the one who thinks he knows it all) — what does he say? They pay attention to the Rasha — the wicked wise guys who are detached from Torah observance — what does hesay? But they pay no attention to hear: “Tam” — “there” [In Russian and also in Aramaic Tam means “there” (see Beitzah 4b)] — i.e. in Heaven, what does He say? And if He will ask, “ma zot?” — “What you have accomplished, what have you done about your actions that have pushed off your redemption,” what will you say?

As depressing as this may be, immediately we are comforted and gladdened by the answer: “Hashem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand.” Hashem took the Jews out by force whether they were ready or deserving to be redeemed or not. He simply showed tremendous mercy and redeemed them forcefully. And thus, we too can hope that Hashem will have mercy on us and redeem us.

My dear Bar Mitzvah, we are living in a time when there are many so called chachamim and notorious resha’im. They come and go like the winds. Some last longer and some less. Don’t waste your time with them and their opinions. What you should always bear in mind and be concerned with, is Tam mahu omer — the One up there — what does He say.? He gave us a Torah and told us how we should conduct ourselves. Are we obeying His instructions? Is he happy with our learning and davening? When you will make it your goal to listen to what is said Tamthere — you will enjoy all the best that He can give with His strong hand.