Wherever You Go There I Am

This guest Drash is by Rachamim Bitton of Jerusalem's Nahar Shalom Yeshiva located in the Nachlaot neighborhood.

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Bo 5777

Our Parsha deals with the final three plagues Hashem brought upon the Egyptians. The plague of Arbeh, Choshech, and Bechorot. The locust which covered the land, the darkness which was palpable, and the death of every first born and every leader of the house if there were no firstborn in that house.

Our Rabbis taught that the name of the Parsha “Bo” alludes to these three as the numerical value of Bo-בא is three. This is no simple hint because the Arizal teaches us that the Makot were tremendous spiritual light and energy which were sent out from the Shechinah and were manifested as destructive plagues by the ‘Klipah’ -or impure energy of Paroh and Mitzrayim.

This is always the way things manifest as good or bad. Hashem never sends bad. “No bad comes from Hashem”, as the Pasuk teaches us in Eicha 3, 38.

Hashem’s sends blessings and these blessings manifest to each person according to their actions, speech, thoughts, intentions, attitudes, behaviors, belief systems, etc.

The final three plagues, explains the Arizal, were sent out from the first three ‘sefirot’- characteristics of Godly revelation. These are the Sefirot of Binah, Chochmah, and Keter.

The Keter is the crown and the first sefirah which is represented in many places by the letter Alef. The Chochmah and Binah both emanate from this Keter, one on the right and one on the left.

This is hinted to by the name Bo, where the Bet represents the two sefirot of Binah and Chochmah while the Alef represents the Keter.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל משֶׁה בֹּא אֶל פַּרְעֹה כִּי אֲנִי הִכְבַּדְתִּי אֶת לִבּוֹ וְאֶת לֵב עֲבָדָיו לְמַעַן שִׁתִי אֹתֹתַי אֵלֶּה בְּקִרְבּוֹ:

The Lord said to Moses: “Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, in order that I may place these signs of Mine in his midst,

During the life of Rabbi Yitchak of Vorkah there was once a desire among the government to make a decree to burn and destroy all of the Shulchan Aruch and Choshen Mishpat. Rabbi Yitzchak knew of a respected man named R’ Mordechai Michelzohn of Kloshin who was a wealthy businessman whom had dealings with the government and Minister in charge of that decree.

Rabbi Yitchak asked him to implore this minister to nullify the decree but R’ Mordechai was very scared to approach the Minister with such a request. Finally, Rabbi Yitzchak told him the Hashem told Moshe “Bo EL Paroh”- “Come to Paroh”. He did not say “Go to Paroh”.

Hashem saw how fearful Moshe was to approach Paroh again with such severe and difficult threats and so Hashem comforted him the He would not go alone. Hashem was telling Moshe that wherever he goes, there Hashem is already and so he would not be ‘going’ to Paroh but instead ‘Coming to Paroh’.

This strengthened R’ Mordechai’s faith and when he approached the Minister he found favour in his eyes and was granted his request and the decree was nullified, Baruch Hashem.

This is a lesson to all of us in life to recognize how Hashem’s presence is everywhere and he is always watching over us and paying attention to every detail in our lives so that we don’t need to ever be stressed or afraid. We can just let go and depend on Hashem with complete faith and trust.

We must remind ourselves that wherever we go, even it’s into a situation which seems like we are approaching a Paroh with terrible threats, Hashem is already there within the darkness, awaiting our arrival and making sure that there will only be a positive outcome.

Thinking and feeling this way is what will cause this reality to be revealed. It’s what will make us worthy of experiencing this light in the form of revealed kindness and not, Heaven forbid, a plague-like the Egyptians did.

The holy Rebbe Elimelch of Lizensk explained that there are two types of miracles. There are physical miracles where we see a new revelation of Hashem in the physical world through the bending of physical reality. Through bending the physical reality and showing us something new He reveals to us the truth of His constant control and intentional operation of everything that happens.

The second and more significant miracle is a spiritual miracle. This is a new paradigm and revelation in the Torah and a deeper understanding of Godliness, a new spark of advice in how to overcome our hurdles and be saved from our personal miseries and exiles.

One miracle can lead to another but the more important point here is the difference between a Tzadik, and Rasha (committed sinner) in how they respond and react to these miracles.

The tzadik will completely, congruently and consistently ascend a higher and deeper level through even one miracle while the Rasha will maybe make a change for a short period but will then return back to his old ways.

The only way a Rasha can also merit the consistent and congruent change is through persistent and constant exposure to such miracles.

Here, in these words, Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk has revealed to us the importance of studying even a small amount of Torah each day until we see and connect to a deeper understanding of the Divine, and feel that paradigm shift. Even a small amount of such Torah study, when done daily and consistently, has the power to transform even a Paroh into a Tzadik.

This, explains Rebbe Elimelech, is why Hashem tells Moshe to “Come to Paroh” instead of “Go to Paroh”.

בֹּא אֶל פַּרְעֹה has a connotation of consistence while לך אל פרעה sounds like it’s a one time thing.

Hashem was revealing to Moshe the secret of transforming even a Paroh into a tzadik and helping the most hardened Rasha repent. The secret is consistent exposure to that state of revelation, that miracle state, that state of wonderment with the greatness of the Divine, and His Torah’s sweetness.

May we merit implementing these sparks of revelation to bring us deeper and more consistent connection with Hashem so that we are consistently and completely redeemed and delivered from this exile once and for all! May we merit the coming of Moshiach and the third Bet Hamikdash speedily in our days Amen!

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