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Through talking things out, exchanging ideas and accepting compromises, there is hope that even that which is predestined could be changed.

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is “Bo” (Exodus 10:1 – 13:16), and in it we read about the last three of the 10 plagues that came upon Egypt.

On threat of yet another plague, Moses warns Pharaoh that if he doesn’t let the Jews go, he will be visited by yet another plague, the plague of locusts.

What is different this time around, however, is that after Moses warned Pharaoh, Moses speedily left. It was as if he darted in, delivered God’s message, and then made a run for it. Why so?

It is explained that everyone knew that by this time, Pharaoh was starting to “crack.” There had been six plagues already, and the country was in shambles, not to mention the low morale of the Egyptians. The plague of the locusts was a serious threat. Coming on the heels of the plague of hail, any crops and produce that might have survived would certainly be devoured by the locusts.

It was a plague they did not want, to say the least.

There was a chance that Pharaoh would now let the people go in order to avoid the plague. Moses knew that Pharaoh could no longer dictate a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ answer. Egypt was reeling. Pharaoh would be forced to call a ‘board meeting’ to discuss the options. As such, Moses left Pharaoh and his advisers in order to give them a chance to discuss the possibility of letting the Jews go. And Moses’ plan worked – with Moses out of sight, they indeed discussed that option. Had Moses remained present, the pressure and ego factor would have certainly prevented any decision to free the Jews.

God and Moses certainly knew that Pharaoh would ultimately say ‘no’ and that there would be a total of 10 plagues before he would finally succumb. Still, the fact that Moses was willing to give his plan a shot teaches us that when people sit down to discuss difficult situations, solutions can be found. Through talking things out, exchanging ideas and accepting compromises, there is hope that even that which is predestined could be changed. We even have the power to even change God’s plans.

Another lesson here is that we should respect peoples’ dignity and allow them to have their private conversations. Moses left because Pharaoh and his staff were about to discuss very sensitive and confidential matters. No matter who it is or what the topic, we have no business listening in on the private conversations of others.

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah reading, click on the links below.



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