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The Torah's Weekly Portions
Exodus / Shmot - Bo

Contributed January, 2008 by Asher ben Shimon
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This week's Torah portion starts with the words "Bo el Par'o". Hashem tells Moshe to go to Pharaoh to warn him about one of the plagues.

The name of the parsha usually reflects the content of it. The whole parsha discusses the preparation to the exodus from Egypt. `Bo el Par'o' is the beginning of this redemption. The obvious question is: How does going to Pharaoh in his own palace and being told: "Be
careful! The next time you will see my face you will die!" indicate that the redemption is near? Also: what does it mean to us today three and a half thousand years later?

"Bo" means come. Hashem doesn't say GO to Pharaoh but COME [with me] to Pharaoh. Moshe was afraid of Pharaoh so Hashem told him: "let's go together and I will fight for you".

This world was created with positive and negative. All positive has an opposite negative. Pharaoh is the opposite of the spiritual level where "itperi'u kol nehorin" (itperi'u and Par'o have the same root).  The level where all spiritual lights shine at their strongest without
any order. In other words, all the different spiritual levels exist there, recognizable as being all those different levels, and at the same time they are not limited to the level where they belong.

This can only happen in the source of it all. This is called `Atzmut', the essence of Hashem. This is a very high level of kedusha (holiness). The opposite is a very strong level of tuma (impurity). Pharaoh represents this negative level.

Moshe wasn't afraid to deal with he human king Pharaoh, even in his palace. He was afraid of Pharaoh on the opposite side. He was afraid of the intensity of itperi'u kol nehorin. He knew that a soul in a body doesn't have the ability to receive all those high spiritual
levels together at once. The physical body has limitations. Too much of anything overwhelms a person. The same way a person cannot handle too much heat or cold or food it also can't handle too much spiritual energy.

Therefore when Pharaoh told Moshe "You will not be able to see my face without dying" Moshe agreed. "Panim" -face, also means pnimiyut–the inner dimension. The soul within the limitations of the body cannot receive the inner dimension of Pharaoh.

The purpose of the exodus from Egypt was to receive the Torah. Before the Torah was given it was impossible to connect the physical with the spiritual. Today when we print a Torah book with physical ink on physical paper the book becomes holy and we treat it with respect.

This connection was not possible before the Torah was given.

The purpose of creation of the entire universe is to make a house for Hashem in this physical world.

A house is where the entire being of the person lives. This world has the ability to contain even the essence of Hashem's being.

How is that possible?
Since everything is ultimately rooted in Hashem's essence where there is no time and space, even this finite world can contain the highest level of spirituality because of its original source.

`Bo el Par'o' is the beginning of this process of bringing down the spiritual into the physical.
When Moshe was told to go to Pharaoh the first time he said "I have difficulty talking".
Speech is only needed for a second party. Normal people don't talk to themselves. Only when there is someone to talk to we talk. Moshe was on a very high level that couldn't be revealed in this world. That is what he meant by saying that he had difficulty talking. Moshe wasn't on the level of the receivers. He stood so much higher that others wouldn't be able to receive from him. So he remained quiet.

Hashem answered him: "Anochi –"I", will be with you". Anochi refers to the level of atzmut, the essence of Hashem, where the infinite and finite connect. When connected to that, it becomes possible to receive unlimited spiritual light in a finite body.

Nevertheless, at that time Moshe remained with his speech problem and his brother Aharon became his spokesman. Only when the world was ready to connect with the spiritual, Hashem said once again "Anochi", the first word of the Ten commandments. It was then that Moshe received the power of speech fully. Only then did it become possible
for the whole world to connect with Hashem fully.

Before the Jewish people were to leave Egypt they were told several times to make sure to borrow as much as they could from the Egyptians in order to fulfill Hashem's promise to Avraham that they would leave with a lot of wealth. At first they couldn't get excited abut this idea but Hashem assured them that he would make sure the Egyptians would give everything with a nice smile.

We are talking here about a nation in exile for several hundred years. The slavery had been unbearable. Finally the time had come to leave in a miraculous way. Why would they be interested in money? As  long as they would be able to get out of there as soon as possible they would have been happy.

Another question we can ask is; why did they have to borrow and couldn't they just TAKE everything without being hurt, during the  plague of darkness?

Also, why did Hashem make sure the Egyptians gave them willingly? He had been punishing them all along, so why not make then feel bad about losing their last possessions that were not destroyed by the plagues?

This is also part of connecting the positive with the negative. The Jewish people had to deal WITH the world, not break it. When necessary Hashem breaks the laws of nature to punish Egypt or other negative forces. Our job is to deal with it and transform the negative to become a smiley giver to the positive.

`Bo el Par'o' to US means getting ready for the final redemption by connecting ourselves with the highest spiritual levels that we have in us, and connect them with the lowest of the negative we find in this physical world. That must be done this in a way that the world respects us and wants to help us by giving us religious freedom and funding for religious education.

In those days the negative was only pushed off for a short time. The Egyptians didn't give us break for too long and came running after us right way. Then we had to escape.

Soon when Moshiach comes, the negative will be transformed to be a helper to the positive forever and we will leave exile `not in a hurry' as the prophet Isaiah says. May it be right NOW!


Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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