Weekly Reading Insights: Bo 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Bo

To be read on 8 Shvat 5764 (Jan.31 )

Bo is the 3rd Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 15th overall, and 24th out of 54 in overall length.
Exodus 10:1-13:16;
: Jeremiah 46:13-28 (about another downthrow of Egypt by G-d, eight centuries later)

Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16) opens with the plagues of locusts and darkness. Then, Moshe warned Pharaoh of the last plague, the death of the firstborn. G-d commanded the Jews to designate a lamb as a pascal offering which would be slaughtered and its blood put on the doorpost, a sign so that in that Jewish home, no Jewish firstborn would be harmed. G-d commanded that Jews not to do labor on the first and last days of the holiday, to eat matzahs, and not to own any leavening. The Jews did as they were commanded, and the night of Passover, the non-Jewish male and animal firstborns were killed. The Egyptians sent the Jews away, bestowing upon them many riches. They hurried the Jews so much so that the Jews' dough did not have time to rise and remained unleavened matzahs. Next are listed a few of the Passover laws for future generations. Also mentioned are laws of consecrating firstborn Jewish males and animals, and the mitzvah of tefillin.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:15-64/Bo )

Just as he [Job] judged others, so was he himself judged. Job was one of the closest advisors to Pharaoh, and when Pharaoh rose up over the People of Israel to kill them, [Job] told him otherwise.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:15-64/Bo )

Pharaoh did not know about [the aspect of G-d signified by] the Name Havayah, and in fact denied [the aspect signified by] this Name (G-d forbid), as it is written, "I do not know G-d [Havayah]." (Ex. 5:2) However, he did recognize [the aspect of G-d signified by] the Name Elo-him, as it is written, "It is the finger of G-d [Elo-him]." (Ex. 8:15)

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:15-64/Bo )

We must remember that, though the redemption from Egypt was indeed a great redemption, it was not an ultimate redemption. Such a redemption will occur only in the future when the Mashiach comes, at which time the impact of the remaining two letters in G-d's Ineffable Name will also be felt [the vav and the final hei].

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart." (10:1)
If the purpose of the Ten Plagues would have been to "soften" Pharaoh's heart, his free will - the ability to choose without outside coercion - would have been impaired. G-d therefore "hardened" Pharaoh's heart to level the playing field and preserve his free will. Furthermore, the Hebrew word for "hard," "kaveid," also means "liver." The longer liver is cooked, the harder it becomes. Pharaoh's heart was like a piece of liver; as the Ten Plagues progressed, it just got harder and more rigid.
(HaDrash Veha'Iyun)

"With a mighty hand G-d brought us forth out of Egypt." (13:14)
G-d's "mighty hand" was directed not only toward Pharaoh and the Egyptians but toward the Children of Israel, as some Jews preferred to remain in slavery and were redeemed by G-d against their will. Likewise, G-d will redeem us from our present exile with a "mighty hand," taking with Him even those Jews who might prefer to remain in exile.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:15-64/Bo)

This week's Torah portion includes G-d's first commandment to the Jewish people as an entity: the sanctification of the new month (see Sefer HaChinuch for an in depth explanation). On the first verse of the Torah, Rashi comments that G-d began with the story of Creation until the Egyptian exodus (as opposed to beginning with the first official mitzvah) in order to demonstrate that He is the Creator of everything, and therefore it is His privilege to give the land of Israel to whomever He chooses - and He chose the Jewish people.

Nevertheless, we can still question His reason for choosing to sanctification of the moon as the first commandment? It must be that there is something especially significant in this mitzvah, a founding principle, which made it the first one to be commanded to the nation.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe cites the Midrash on Naso that G-d's intention in the creation of the world was His desire to create for Himself a dwelling place in the lower realms. This means that He wanted His sanctity to dwell even in this physical plane. This is accomplished when we perform G-d's commandments. By doing divinely inspired actions in a physical world, we reveal His holiness. Every time we use something physical in the performance of a commandment - for example, Chanuka candles, or challahs on Shabbat, or a coin for charity - we draw divine energy upon our body, soul, and on the physical object itself, making a dwelling place for G-d in this plane.

But what does making for G-d a dwelling place have to do with the sanctification of the new moon? In Tanya (2:7), the first Chabad Rebbe makes an interesting distinction. The physical world consists of two different elements: time and space. Different sources explain that time was created before space and was the very first creation, a prerequisite for everything else. Therefore, the first commandment of the Torah relates to the nature of time: the commandment of the sanctification of the moon.

The Jewish calendar is based on the 29 1/2 day lunar cycle yielding a 29 or 30 day month. Years begin and end when the months are completed. The dates of holidays are all determined by the cycle of the moon. By our fulfilling the commandment of sanctifying the arrival of the new lunar month, we draw down divine energy on the entire construct of time.

This is the meaning of the blessing, "(G-d) sanctifies Israel and (the events at that) time". Matter is conserved, and even a soul can never die; the one commodity we can never hold on to is time. Let us try from now on to use every fraction of time to make this world a dwelling for G-d, to be revealed with the imminent redemption.

All firsts are related. This first mitzvah is connected to the first verse of the Torah, which teaches that the Land of Israel was given to the Jewish people. This is to remind us that in addition to time, physical matter (i.e. the Land) also must be instilled with holiness. By imbuing both time and space with holiness, we will hasten the fulfillment of the prophecy that "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d, as the waters cover the sea". May it be now!
Shabbat Shalom!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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