Rabbi Meilech Biederman, a well-known teacher in Jerusalem, shared an incredible message this week, one that is worth sharing almost verbatim.
Hashem told Moshe to arise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, because that is when he goes out to the water [see 7:15].
Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki provides a well-known explanation from the Medrash (actually, that Rashi records it is undoubtedly why this is the well-known explanation): Pharaoh wanted people to believe that he was a god, and didn’t need to relieve himself. So he would secretly go out to the Nile in the morning to address his needs, and Hashem wanted Moshe to meet him there and show him that he knew he was no god.
But there is another Medrash (Shemos Raba 11:1), Rabbi Biederman says, with an entirely different explanation. This Medrash says that Pharaoh wanted to go out to pray. This is why Hashem told Moshe to go out early — before Pharaoh had a chance to pray — because after he prayed it would be too late!
This is said, of course, about the wicked Pharaoh who enslaved and tortured 600,000 Jews — saying that Moshe had better be sure to get there before he has a chance to pray. This means that even his prayers had power.
Rabbi Biederman then says, “if a little voice, the evil inclination, comes to me and says, ‘Meilech, who do you think you are? You think you can pray to Hashem?’ I can reply, ‘I know who I am — but I’m definitely not Pharaoh!'”
If Pharaoh’s prayers could have stopped Moshe, then our own prayers and good deeds have unimaginable power that we cannot truly appreciate.
We have to remind ourselves of this every day: we are definitely better than Pharaoh!