Rebecca Masinter

Parshas Bo - Offering "Come", Not "Go"

Parshas Bo begins with Hashem telling Moshe,בֹּ֖א אֶל־פַּרְעֹ֑ה, “Come to Pharaoh”. The question is obvious - shouldn’t He have said “Go to Pharaoh”? Why did Hashem say “Come to Pharaoh” when the mission was to send Moshe to GO to Pharaoh. One classic answer is that Hashem was telling Moshe and all future leaders of the Jewish people, “You are never alone. I will be right there in the throne room supporting and guiding you as you approach Pharaoh. I’m not sending you on a mission with the word “go”, I am calling you to come to me as you fulfil this mission, “come”. I’ll be there with you - you are never alone. There are two important lessons I want to share with you. Firstly, mothers sometimes shoulder the responsibility of parenting as a heavy burden. We need to remind ourselves that parenting is also a “Come” mission from Hashem. He doesn’t send us off to parent on our own, He is right there alongside us. We know that there are three partners in every child; a father, a mother, and Hashem. Hashem’s role doesn’t end at birth. He remains an active partner with us and fortunately, His role in parenting is infinitely more powerful, loving and effective than our own. Hashem is present as our partner as we raise our children. The burden is not ours because the mission is “Bo”, come, not “Lech”, go. There is a second aspect of Bo regarding our children. There is a world of difference in sending our child to do something as a “Go” mission, versus a “Come” mission. We can help our children rise to challenges best with the message of “I’m with you” rather than “Go do it yourself”. Whether we are encouraging a young child to do something small or asking an older child to stretch beyond their comfort level in a larger way, we can learn from Hashem and give a message of “Bo”, I will be with you as you do this. You’re not alone. Amazingly, when children (and adults!) feel they can depend, they then feel safe and comfortable enough to assert their independence. The drive for independence emerges only once dependence needs are met. When we offer to be there and assist them, children will frequently choose to try a task themselves. “Go on your own” isn’t nearly as effective as a message of “Bo - I’ll be there alongside you”. Hashem sent Moshe on a difficult job, to address a king who wouldn’t listen, but He didn’t send him alone. The awareness of constant, unwavering, generous love and support enables all of us to be independent and reach higher. The message of Bo isn’t only one that Hashem gave to Moshe, it’s one that we can internalize for ourselves and offer to our children as we remind them that we are unwaveringly committed to being there alongside them as they grow. “In thousands of little ways, we pull and push our children to grow up, hurrying them along instead of inviting them to rest. We could never court each other as adults by resisting dependence...Perhaps we feel free to invite the dependence of adults because we are not responsible for their growth and maturity. We don't bear the burden of getting them to be independent. Here is the core of the problem: we are assuming too much responsibility for the maturation of our children. We have forgotten that we are not alone - we have nature as our ally. Independence is the fruit of maturation; our job in raising children is to look after their dependency needs. When we do our job of meeting genuine dependency needs, nature is free to do its job of promoting maturity. In the same way, we don't have to make our children grow taller; we just need to give them food. By forgetting that growth, development and maturation are natural processes, we lose perspective. We become afraid our children will get stuck and never grow up. Perhaps we think that if we don't push a little, they will never leave the nest. Human beings are not like birds in this respect. The more children are pushed, the tighter they cling - or, failing that, they nest with someone else.” ― Gordon Neufeld, Hold On To Your Kids