Have you ever wanted, no, needed to tell someone that they are completely wrong and should change their ways? How do you tell them?

There are a few verses in this week’s Torah portion about God’s instructions to Moses about what to say to Pharaoh. What’s interesting is that they seem to say almost the exact same thing even though they are only a few lines away from each other:

G-d spoke to Moses, saying: “Go and tell Pharaoh King of Egypt to let the Israelites depart from his land.”

Exodus 6:10-11

G-d spoke to both Moses and Aaron in regard to the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt.

Exodus 6:13

Why is this idea repeated? Rashi says that God was telling Moses to be respectful to the King of Egypt.

This is pretty astounding considering Moses was about to condemn Pharaoh’s actions in front of all of his ministers. He was about to threaten him with the suffering of the ten plagues. How could this be respectful?

Rabbi Yehudah Leib Chasman explains that certain things have to be said. Moses had to ask for the Jews freedom or they would never get it. Pharaoh had to know how severe the consequences would be or he wouldn’t listen. But the manner in which he asked could vary quite a bit. Moses could have yelled at Pharaoh in indignation OR he could calmly make his request and lay out the situation. G-d was ensuring that it was the latter.

Everyone is a little bit off kilter right now. A lot of people are doing things that don’t make sense and they sometimes need someone to straighten out their course so they don’t beach ourselves on a pile of rocks. But even if we need to rebuke someone else, we have to remember that he or she is a human being who is worthy of respect.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Altonaga and the JET Team