Blog Bo Shevat 6 5779 בלוג בֹּא, ו’ שבט תשע”ט
Bo means “come”, not “go”. With this simple word the Creator was letting Moshe know that He would go with him to Pharaoh. It’s a beautiful picture for us to see that we are never alone. It is not in my interest to compare religions; rather that we develop a relationship with the Creator through these teachings in Torah. He is always with us. Keeping this in mind, verses 3 and 7 of Exodus 10 contain an interesting phrase “ad matai”, עַד-מָתַי literally “until when” or how much longer? The first time is when Moshe asks Pharaoh “how much longer will you refuse to submit to me?” and the second time is when the Pharaoh’s own officials ask him “how much longer will you be fooled by this man.”
It is very important that we learn to know ourselves. When I do premarital counseling, I usually ask the young couple, “how well do you know yourself?” This confuses them but if you think about it, it is often easier to speak about others than yourself. It is hard to be objective about ourselves because most of us would never think to do something intentionally wrong or evil to others. Then circumstances occur where we are forced to question and have to deal with our personal behavior. We can never live up to the standards set by others for our own lives and we need to arrive at the place where we humble ourselves before our Creator admitting our frailties.
One of our greatest enemies, psychologically speaking, is pride; it is a contagious virus. Most of us prefer to keep a façade rather than allowing others to see us as we are. We prefer the acceptance and even adulation of others. We could become like balloons floating high in the air where we self-righteously look down upon others. Then one day, the Creator takes a pin and bursts our bubble. We fall flat on the ground hopefully not on our faces but on our backs so that we are able to look up at Him. We then go from being holier than thou to being humble before the Creator who speaks to us. When others try to tell us how we are, we often cannot hear them. It takes courage to approach those we care about and tell them honestly about their wrong behavior due to their possible reactions. It is easier to talk to others about it but be careful not to gossip. Right communication is so important and healing to both parties. It is important to listen when someone tells us that what we are doing is wrong. Pharaoh’s own servants questioned him “ad matai” …” let them go worship their God, don’t you realize Egypt is destroyed?” Pride and stubbornness blind us.
We all have a little bit of Pharaoh within us. Think about this…even Pharaoh was a child of God, made in His likeness and image! He made the wrong choices. It seems, according to the words in the Torah, that the Creator didn’t allow Pharaoh to exercise his free will rather that He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This is not the case. Actually, Pharaoh’s will or resolve was strengthened or made heavy by his own stubbornness; he didn’t want to change his own mind. Sin begins in a very small way but if we don’t stop our behavior at the very beginning, we get caught up either because of wanting to be accepted by others or by our own stubbornness. We try to keep up appearances.
There comes a time when we need to take internal inventory of ourselves. That’s where prayer comes in. Prayer in Hebrew is tefila תפילה and it means to do introspection in order to reveal our problem areas, admitting that we are weak and cannot overcome them alone. We can never get help until we are ready to admit it first to ourselves. “Ad matai”, how long until we drop the façade and get help. The attitude “I will never surrender” is a disaster for our lives. The moment we recognize our limitations is the moment we start growing. Pharaoh refused to budge.
Are you ready to make a revolutionary change in your own life…to be yourself? What are you afraid of? We are fools if we think that we can solve our own problems. Do you know what it means to humble yourself before God? It simply means to recognize both who He is and who you are. It isn’t about all the religious traditions and practices you keep which are empty without the intention of the heart! Remember the process in our walk with the Creator: we go from emunah – אמונה – faith (His gift to us) to bitachon – בטחון – learning to trust Him as we utilize our bechirah chofshit – בחירה חופשית – free will” (another gift from Him) to take responsibility for our choices; He then judges our kavanah – כונה, the intentions of our hearts. Our great teacher, Rabbi Yeshua taught us the importance of the intentions; for example, when he said that lusting over someone is the same as doing it. It all begins with our intentions.
Pharaoh was hard-headed and held his stance allowing everything in Egypt to be destroyed even the elite of his own army, when he chased the Israelites after he had expelled them from the land. Please note that Israel never asked to be delivered from Egypt; they were thrown out preferring to stay put, hoping that their lot would improve. “Ad matai” was also meant for Israel. Until when would they completely surrender to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Israel’s greatest problem, then, as it has been throughout our history, is assimilation. They were being absorbed into the Egyptian way of life and had to be physically removed. They wouldn’t dare offer a lamb in Egypt out of fear of reprisal. Now they would be forced to do that so that they could be saved from the last plague. There is a price to pay to follow the Creator! We and our children will not be popular in our environments when we have to speak out for the values in the Torah. Nothing of lasting value is free. Are we willing to invest in our life with the Creator? He keeps asking us “ad matai”, how long will we wait until we come clean before Him? Do we prefer to play the game of being “holier than thou” to others as we keep up a façade? Ad matai – Until when?
Edited by Peggy Pardo