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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parshas Bo

The very first Rashi is problematic.

The verse says:

And Hashem said to Moses 'Come to Pharaoh because I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants so that I will be able to set the signs of Mine in their midst.


And Hashem said to Moses "come to Pharaoh": Rashi : And warn him.

Questioning Rashi?

Why does Rashi tell us the seemingly obvious? Why else would Moses go to Pharaoh if not to warn him?

What's Bothering Rashi?

An Answer: In each of the previous plagues where Pharaoh was warned, Hashem had told Moses what to tell Pharaoh. See the previous verses: 7:17; 7:26; 8:17; 9:1; 9:13. But this time is the first time when Moses was told by G-d to go Pharaoh without the Torah telling us what he was to say to Pharaoh. Therefore, Rashi clarifies that here too (even though nothing is written explicitly) Moses was also told to warn Pharaoh.

A Deeper Look

There is another difficulty in this verse. What does it mean "Go to Pharaoh because I have hardened his heart…? BECAUSE G-d hardened his heart, is that a reason to go to him and warn him? That is a reason for NOT going to him. It's a lost cause.

What, then, is the reason that Moses was commanded to go to Pharaoh, even though G-d had hardened his heart?

An Answer: The rest of this verse answers our question. The purpose of this plague was "So that I will set My signs in their midst. And in order that you may relate in the ears of your son and your grandson how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and the miraculous signs I performed among them. You will know that I am Hashem.

So, even though, Pharaoh's reaction is predictable, nevertheless G-d wanted Moses to go to Pharaoh and warn him, to show how his inevitable resistance would be broken.

Summary: We can say in summary, that these plagues were not made to subjugate Pharaoh, that could been done with one massive blow, like the death of all firstborn. Instead, the reason for all these plagues in face of Pharaoh's obstinacy ,is to teach Israel, in all generations, the power of Hashem and His way of redeeming His people.

Shabbat Shalom
Avigdor Bonchek

"What's Bothering Rashi?" is a production of "The Institute for the Study of Rashi."

The Institute is in the process of preparing the fourth hard copy volume of "What's Bothering Rashi?" Readers interested in sponsoring a sedra in this volume are encouraged to contact us for further details at msbonch@mscc.huji.ac.il

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