January 6-7, 2021, Israel
"And Pharaoh hurried and called for Moshe and Aharon (Aaron) and he said, 'I have transgressed against the Eternal God, and against you (by treating you so disrespectfully). Now forgive my transgression this time and appeal to God on my behalf that he just remove this death from me." (Exodus, Chapter 10, verse 16-17)
It is late at night, and the spirit is finally calm. It has been a long and challenging day. Phone calls, e mails, Facebook, and now finally I take out my old book. It is the volume my dear father gave to me when I was 12 years old. My name appears in it in his handwriting. It is the five books of Moses, and he gave this book to me to prepare for my Bar Mitzvah. I still use it, every day.
and I read, the same words, again and again. And with a calm spirit suddenly a thought comes to me, on very simple words, but something I have not seen before.
Again we are back in Egypt and we are reliving the drama of Moshe and Aharon and Pharaoh and the people of Israel, and it all feels so new. So relevant. Moshe and Aharon bring plague after plague open Egypt and upon Pharaoh and now he has had enough. The slave master is willing to negotiate, he is willing to talk business. But first he begs, speak to your God and get him to remove this living death from me, I just can't take it anymore.
Moshe will speak to God, And God will respond in force, and God will remove the plague, but first something happens, and I had not noticed this before. One short verse with no known commentaries...6 words in Hebrew, "Wayese me'ím Paro, weyethar el Adonai" (Exodus, Chapter 10, verse 18)
The English translations do not fully capture the meaning but it could be...and he (Moshe) departed from Pharaoh and prayed to God. Or, and he left Pharaoh, or ...he took his leave of Pharaoh. What is the difference?
In Hebrew, the meaning is closer to ...and he exited from the company of Pharaoh and he prayed to God.
What does this mean? What can we learn from these few simple words?
Pharaoh is evil, he is a dictator, he is holding a nation in chains; the Hebrews and others are born as slaves and will die as slaves. There is no freedom in this land for foreigners or their descendants. A life of slavery is their lot, daily turmoil and suffering.
When Moshe wants to pray to God, even on behalf of the king of Egypt, he cannot do so in the presence of such a man. He must Exit from being with (Im), together with Pharaoh. He must leave the presence of such a man in order to be able to pray in peace to the Eternal God. He cannot do this in the presence of evil.
I read this and I am excited!
What a powerful lesson from 3,700 years and how relevant to our own lives. You are stuck in a bad job, in a bad relationship, in a bad community. You are trying to improve, but you cannot!! We yese me im Pharo, and he exited from being in the company of Pharaoh. You must leave this situation, it is diseased. You must separate yourself from this sickness. You must get away from the infected area and the infected people. You cannot pray in holiness when you are being pulled down by such negative forces. The first step is to exit, to get out.
Only then...and Moshe prayed to God. and God responded.
Have a good Sabbath everyone. Peace.
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