Torah Reflections; Lessons in the weekly Torah portion and topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition

Torah Reflections from Torah Readers

Divrai Torah, weekly Torah portion summaries, lessons and essays on topics of Judaism, spirituality, observance and tradition.

Torah Readers
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Parashat Bo

For the week of Fri 27th Jan 2023 - ה׳ בִּשְׁבָט תשפ״ג
Parashat Bo

First Born...?

What is special about the firstborn? Why does the Torah give special consideration to the firstborn yet so many of the personalities in the Torah are not firstborn. Could the concept of the firstborn be a state of mind?

Did you know that...

The Jewish New Year is always on Rosh Hashanah, which falls in the month of Tishrei. However in this week’s reading, as the ‘Leaving of Egypt’ took place in the month of Nissan, we name this month as the first and head of all months (Ramban Shemot 12:2), because, the purpose of being released from slavery in the land of Egypt was that we would now solely have only one master, G-d. The month of Nissan is important because it is the birth month of Israel as a nation.

The very first mitzvah that was given to the Jewish people, before the last plague began, is that The judges of the Beit Din should always fix the beginning of a new Jewish month. We are introduced to the laws of Rosh Chodesh in this parashah (Shemot 12:2). The Jewish calendar comprises of 354 days, which follows a lunar calendar, unlike the calendar we follow in various countries outside of Israel which comprises of 365 days. Every Rosh Chodesh is accompanied with Hallel and reading portions of the Torah. It is a time to look for renewal and try to improve one’s ways and look for a better month.

Parasha Summary

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The last 3 plagues and the exodus from Egypt occur in this weeks portion of Bo. The death of the firstborn finally breaks Pharaoh’s resistance, and he literally drives the children of Israel from his land.

The last three of the Ten Plagues are visited on Egypt: a swarm of locusts devours all the crops and greenery; a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land; and all the firstborn of Egypt are killed at the stroke of midnight of the 15th of the month of Nissan.

God commands the first mitzvah to be given to the people of Israel: to establish a calendar based on the monthly rebirth of the moon. The Israelites are also instructed to bring a “Passover offering” to God: a lamb or kid goat is to be slaughtered, and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, so that God should pass over these homes when He comes to kill the Egyptian firstborn. The roasted meat of the offering is to be eaten that night together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs.

The death of the firstborn finally breaks Pharaoh’s resistance, and he literally drives the children of Israel from his land. So hastily do they depart that there is no time for their dough to rise, and the only provisions they take along are unleavened. Before they go, they ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver and garments—fulfilling the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would leave Egypt with great wealth.

The children of Israel are commanded to consecrate all firstborn, and to observe the anniversary of the Exodus each year by removing all leaven from their possession for seven days, eating matzah, and telling the story of their redemption to their children. They are also commanded to wear tefillin on the arm and head as a reminder of the Exodus and their resultant commitment to God.

Second Opinion

Opinions, Essays, Cultural Observances

Let My People Go!

Parashat Bo בֹּא (come), is the third in the Book of Exodus (10:1–13:16). The parashah tells of the last three plagues on Egypt, suffered by the Egyptians, and the first Passover. Locusts (אַרְבֶּה, arbeh), Darkness (חֹשֶׁךְ, choshech), and the slaying of the firstborn. In Exodus we are given the laws of Passover, both as they were observed that first time and as they are meant to be kept for future generations.

The Last Word

Social Religous, Cultural and Political Commentary

Personal and community budget and the "First Supper"

The Torah has many lessons for us, but in this week's portion of Bo, we find God teaching the children of Israel the first laws of budgeting and finance and how to achieve a state of mind of "what I have is more than what I need".
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