Parashat Bo

Parashat Bo

Parasha for the Week: Bo: Exodus 10:1 - 13:16 
Haftarah for the Week: Jeremiah 46:13 - 28 
Besorat Yeshua: Mark 14:32 - 44


G-d tells Moshe that He is hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that through miraculous plagues the world will know for all time that He is the one true G-d.

Pharaoh is warned about the plague of locusts and is told how severe it will be.

Pharaoh agrees to release only the men, but Moshe insists that everyone must go. During the plague, Pharaoh calls for Moshe and Aharon to remove the locusts, and he admits he has sinned.

G-d ends the plague but hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and again Pharaoh fails to free the people of Israel. The country, except for the Jewish People, is then engulfed in a palpable darkness.

Pharaoh calls for Moshe and tells him to take all Israel out of Egypt, but to leave their flocks behind. Moshe tells him that not only will they take their own flocks, but Pharaoh must add his own too. Moshe tells Pharaoh that G-d is going to bring one more plague, the death of the first-born, and then Israel will leave Egypt. G-d again hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh warns Moshe that if he sees him again, Moshe will be put to death.

G-d tells Moshe that the month of Nissan will be the chief month.
The people of Israel are commanded to take a sheep on the 10th of the month and guard it until the 14th. The sheep is then to be slaughtered as a Pesach offering, its blood put on their door-posts, and its roasted meat eaten.
The blood on the door-post will be a sign that their homes will be passed-over when G-d strikes the first-born of Egypt.
Israel are told to memorialize this day as the Exodus from Egypt by never eating chametz on Pesach.
Moshe relays G-d’s commands, and Israel fulfill them flawlessly. G-d sends the final plague, killing the first-born, and Pharaoh sends Israel out of Egypt.
G-d tells Moshe and Aharon the laws concerning the Pesach sacrifice, pidyon haben (redemption of the first-born son).

“Plague of Darkness”
The Parsha begins with the last three plagues which G-d brought upon the Egyptians; the plague of locust, darkness and the death of the first-born.
The Torah describes the plague of darkness as follows, “There was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. One did not see his own brother.”
Why does the Torah use the expression, “one did not see his own brother” to describe the severity of the darkness?
There is great lesson here for us. When one doesn’t see the needs of his brother - his neighbor, then we are afflicted with the plague of darkness (see the stories).

"Teaching the Children"
Rabbi Zalmen Marozov says that Judaism emphasizes the importance of educating our children from a very young age. Our children are our assurance of Jewish continuity.
The importance of our youth is mentioned in this week’s Parsha, Bo. In the beginning of the Parsha, the Torah tells us that Moshe and Aaron came to Pharaoh and delivered G-d’s message, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go!”
Pharaoh said to Moshe and Aaron, “Go, serve the L-rd your G-d; but tell me who will be going?” Moshe replied, “With our young and with our old we will go, with our sons and with our daughters.”
Pharaoh angrily replied, “Not so; only the men can go and serve the L-rd.” But when Moshe insisted that the young will also have to come, they were “driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.” G-d then brought the plague of locusts over all the land of Egypt, “Never before was there, nor never will there be, such a grievous locust such as this.” But as with the seven previous plagues, Pharaoh again promised to let the people go, but as soon as G-d removed the plague he had a change of heart. Later in the Parsha, the Torah emphasizes the importance of telling our children the story of Passover and the miracles which G-d performed on our behalf. The Torah tells us to answer their questions and make them aware of the importance of observing G-d’s commandments.
The importance of teaching children was again emphasized at the giving of the Torah. The Midrash relates that G-d agreed to give the Torah to the Jewish people only after they firmly committed to educate their children in its ways. As soon as a child begins to speak, we must teach them to recite words of Torah.
Pharaoh only objected to the young going to serve G-d. Therefore, Moshe should have answered, “with our young we will go.” Why did Moshe reply, “with our young and with our old we will go?”
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk says that Moshe explains to Pharaoh the importance of taking the children to serve G-d. For if our young will serve G-d, we will also have our old serving G-d. But if we don’t concentrate on our young, we will eventually not have any older people either, “with our young and with our old we will go.
The following sayings of our Talmudic sages indicates the importance of teaching children Torah, “The world endures only because of the breath of school children, for their breath is without sin.” Another saying, “One may not interrupt the study of schoolchildren even for the construction of the Holy Temple.” The Talmud says, “A city that has no school in which children are learning Torah will not endure.”

"Window or Mirror "
A man once became rich and his lifestyle changed. Previously, he gave charity, cared for others and helped them as much as he could. Now he had become hard-hearted and miserly. He cared only for himself and never had time for others.
One day, he was visited by his rabbi who had taught him in his youth. The rich man showed off his beautiful home and boasted to the rabbi about his wealth.
Perceiving the change in his former student, the rabbi called him to the window. Pointing to the outside, the rabbi asked, “What do you see?”
“I see poor people passing to and fro trying to earn a living,” he replied.
Walking over to a large mirror the rabbi told the rich man to look in.
“Now what do you see?” asked the rabbi.
“Myself, of course.”
“I don’t understand,” said the rabbi. “Both the window and the mirror are made of glass. Yet when you look through the window, you see the poor people outside but when you look at the mirror, you see only yourself!”
“The reason is simple!” said the rich man. “The mirror has a silver coating which prevents you from seeing through. However, the window has no silver coating, so you can see through.”
“Exactly!” the rabbi nodded. “It seems that when the silver is in the way all you see is yourself! Maybe you’d be better off without the silver!”
The rich man now got the message. He promised to improve his ways and he began giving charity as before.

"Our Brother"
A man emigrated to the U.S. from a small town in Poland and became very wealthy. In the beginning he would still send some money to his family back home in Poland, but in time he became so involved in his business dealings that he completely forgot about his poor family in Poland.
Years later his brother also immigrated to the U.S. He went to see his brother to ask for his help, but the rich man denied that he had a brother. "You must be making a mistake... I have no brothers." But the newcomer was sure it was his brother. Yet, no matter how much he tried, the rich man refused, saying that he had no brother. Finally, he decided to try one more time.
When the rich man opened the door his brother said to him, "I came to inform you that you better write a will as soon as possible, for you will soon die!"
"How dare you say this... I just had my yearly check up and the doctor proclaimed me to be in good health!"
"Let me tell you how I know this. You see, I may not be a doctor, but back home in our little village when one couldn't recognize his own brother, we knew that he was extremely sick and his days were numbered..."
The Torah says, "To all children of Israel there was light in their dwelling places." Indeed, we have to make sure that there is light amongst us. That we see and feel the needs of others and do our utmost to help.

"Our Neighbor"
Yeshuah gave this story:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.
Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Yeshua said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

"Internal Tefillin"
The Sages explain that the verse, "All nations of the earth will see that God's Name has been called upon you and will respect and fear you," refers to the Tefillin placed on the head. The Vilna Gaon added that this means not just the Tefillin on the head but the Tefillin in the head - i.e. the internalized intention with which the Mitzvot (commandments of God) are performed.

HAFTARAH: Jeremiah 46:13 - 28
Parasha: Pharaoh does not want to repent and to let God’s people go... Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” . (Exodus 10:28). Egypt will receive his punishment, not only by the plagues but also an exile far from Egypt.
Haftarah: Announces the coming of Nebuchad¬nezzar, king of Babylon upon Egypt: “This is the mes¬sage the L-RD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to attack Egypt.” (Jeremiah 46:13).
Even though Egypt has been a great nation, with a great army, they will not resist the Babylonian inva¬sion, the L-rd has decided to give Egypt to the Babylo¬nian: “Why will your warriors be laid low? They cannot stand, for the L-RD will push them down. They will stumble repeatedly; they will fall over each other.” (Jer¬emiah 46:15-16).
Egypt will go to Exile, they will not live anymore in their country, even great cities like Memphis will be without its original inhabitant. “Pack your belongings for exile, you who live in Egypt, for Memphis will be laid waste and lie in ruins without inhabitant. Egypt is a beautiful heifer, but a gadfly is coming against her from the north.” (Jeremiah 46:19-20). Today the people liv¬ing in Egypt are not descendents od the ancient Egyp¬tians.
What happened to Egypt is presented by the prophet as a punishment from God: The L-RD Almighty, the G-d of Israel, says: “I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh.” (Jeremiah 46:25)
Even though G-d will punish also Israel for her sin He will not destroy her completely: “Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descen¬dants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid... “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46:27-28)

Besorat Yeshua Mark 14:32 - 44
Parasha: Moses announces the last plague, the death of the firstborn of Egypt. “Moses said, “Thus says the L-RD: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again. But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites—not at people, not at animals—so that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. .” (Exodus 11:4-7). Even though Moses has said that no one from the Israelites will die, there is a great anguish during this special night.
Besorah: Yeshua went to Gethsemane for a special night of prayer and anguish: They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” (Mark 14:32)
Moses took with him Aaron and Joshua to perform his ministry and miracles in the Besorah Yeshua also took with him his most intimate disciples: “He took with him Peter and James and John” (Mark 14:33).
The last night of the presence of the Israelites in Egypt was a night of prayer, and the night of the sacrifice of the lamb, Yeshua knew that he was himself the sacrifice, the cup of the anger of God which is served at Passover but not drunk by anyone, only the mashiach can drink it : “And said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” (Mark 14:34-36). But finally Yeshua accepted to drink this cup of suffering and sacrifice even though the disciples did not understand what was special on that night.

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