Ten-year-old Sara stormed into her home. “Mom!” She was on the verge of tears, “I can’t stand Deborah! She’s the MEANEST person!”

Deborah, the class bully, had once again made life miserable for Sara.

“Don’t let silly little Deborah upset you. Cheer up!” Sara’s mother reassured her.

Noticing Sara’s still disconsolate expression, she continued, “Come, let’s make you a special treat. That should make you feel much better . . . !”


This week’s Torah portion, Bo (“come”), describes the last plagues visited upon the Egyptians, culminating with the exodus of the Jewish people. In the opening verse, G‑d instructs Moses, “Come to Pharaoh . . . ,” to warn Pharaoh of the upcoming plagues and to demand their release.

Since the name of each Torah section conveys its primary message, why is Bo not titled “Freedom,” or something that describes the extraordinary exodus?

In fact, the name, “Come [to Pharaoh],” reminds us of the opposite—of the Jewish people’s slavery. Moses needed to petition Pharaoh and appeal to him to free his people.

Commentaries also question the usage of the term, “come to Pharaoh” instead of the more appropriate form, “go to Pharaoh.”

But perhaps, the title holds the psychological key for finding solutions to our challenges.

The Zohar explains that by instructing Moses to “come to Pharaoh,” G‑d was inviting Moses to confront the essence of the Egyptian ruler. G‑d told Moses to enter into Pharaoh, in the sense of entering deep within the mind and character of Egypt’s arch-idol.

To liberate the children of Israel from the shackles of their servitude, it was not sufficient for Moses, their leader, to merely “go” to Pharaoh and have a peripheral vision of this leader’s strength. Moses needed to fully confront Pharaoh within his “home base.” He needed to enter into Pharaoh’s mindset, into the bowels of his psyche, into the innards of his consciousness, in order to comprehend the root of his power and his tenacious, tyrannical hold on the Jewish people.

This was the first step towards liberation.

Moses was the “shepherd” and ultimate “parent” of our people, tending to our every need. His conduct teaches us how to help our children (and ourselves) through their respective enslavements, constrictions, or challenges.

The Torah teaches us that in order to free someone from the shackles of their problems, fears, and insecurities, we must “come to Pharaoh.”

Don’t dismiss your child’s (or your own!) issues as insignificant. Don’t reassure her that this “little” incident will pass without validating what she is experiencing. Don’t distract her from her problem without dealing with it.

Experience her pain, frustration, and insecurity. Explore her feelings and validate her challenges. Picture her monsters and feel her fears. Understand what is inhibiting her growth. Help her face her obstacles, rather than avoid them.

Only after you have fully understood what is oppressing the individual can you hope to succeed in providing the solutions for her liberation.