The country is approaching collapse. Yet Pharaoh is still adamant: “The Israelites will not leave! I will not give in to Moses!”
Moses knows the king is furious. He can guess what reception he will get next time he goes to the palace. But it has to be done. So God decides to lift Moses’ spirits. Hence the sidra begins, “The Lord said to Moses, Bo el Paroh.”
The translation says, “Go to Pharaoh”. But the two-letter word bo doesn’t mean “go”. Another two-letter word, lech, means “go”. Bo means “come”.
God says, “Come to Pharaoh; I will be with you!” And with this assurance Moses can carry out his task. He will not be alone!
There is a question we all need to ask ourselves. Do we say “go” or “come” when others are facing a challenging moment?
Do we say to a fellow Jew, “Go – be a better Jew” or “Come – let us work on our Judaism together”?
Do we say to a communal cause, “Go – if you’re short of funds cut down on your activities!” or “Come – let us work together to find means for you to keep going”?
When Shabbat comes do we tell our children, “Go to synagogue on your own!” or “Come – let us come to shule together as a family”?
When our children become adults do we say, “Go – run your lives decently and honestly!” or “Come – let’s join forces and commit our whole family to do what is right”?
When someone is plunged into illness, despair, doubt or bereavement, do we say, “Go – it’s your problem!” or “Come – let me be with you and share your load”?
Saying “come” and not “go” is the beginning of being a mensch.