This week’s Torah Portion, Bo, begins in the middle of the story of the plagues upon Egypt which will inevitably lead Pharaoh to let our people go. Time and again, as each plague increases in severity, Moses asks Pharaoh to let the People of Israel go into the desert to worship their God and Pharaoh says, “No.” Now, God brings the plague of locust upon Egypt and even Pharaoh’s advisors exclaim: “Let the men go, that they may serve Adonai their God, do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” And Pharaoh seems ready to relent. He calls for Moses and Aaron and tells them that he will allow only the men to go and worship their God.
Pharaoh thinks that only the men should go because he does not grasp the notion of freedom for all. Pharaoh cannot imagine that God wishes to relate to each and every one of this miserable people he has enslaved. Moses, on the other hand, explains the core value of monotheism to Pharaoh, and to us. All of us, young and old, men and woman, must stand before God – all of us as individuals, all of us as equals. All of us stand in relationship with God. And so, all of Israel must be allowed to go and worship God in the desert. God, who created every one of us, has a relationship with every one of us. All of us stand as equals before God.