Weekly Reading Insights: Bo 5765

Overview of the Weekly Reading: Bo

To be read on 5 Shvat 5765 (Jan.15)

Exodus 10:1-13:16; Haftorah: Jeremiah 46:13-28 (about another downthrow of Egypt by G-d, eight centuries later)

Bo is the 3rd Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 15th overall, and 24th out of 54 in overall length.

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:15-65/Bo)

Pharaoh as "king" represented the source of spiritual impurity, and as such only G-d could battle him.

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:15-65/Bo)

[In] the present exile [evil clothes] the legs [of holiness], there are therefore two [aspects to it:] Edom and Ishmael, corresponding to the two legs and feet.

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:15-65/Bo)

When Israel is in exile it experiences an existence similar to that of the moon. Just as the moon, despite its temporary eclipse, re-emerges and shines, so will Israel re-emerge after its exile.

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


"There was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days...they saw not one another… nor did anyone rise from his place." (10: 22,23)
The worst kind of darkness is when people refuse to "see" each other and are uninterested in knowing about their fellow man. Indeed, the world is darkened when every individual lives only for himself. When one ignores his responsibilities and makes believe that the problems of others don't exist, the end result is that he himself will suffer and not be able to rise.

(Eshkol Maamarim) (from L'Chaim #655)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"With a mighty hand G-d took us out of Egypt." [13:14]

The Mighty Hand was directly not only against Pharoah, but also towards the Jews. There were Jews who preferred to remain in Egypt, so G-d forced them out against their will. Also from the current Exile G-d will take us out via His mighty hand-against the will of any who prefer to remain in Diaspora.!

from Sichos Kodesh (translated from Sichat HaShavuah #367)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:15-65/Bo)

This week's parasha contains the last 3 of the 10 plagues and the final departure of the Jewish people from Egypt. It opens with the words "Come to Pharaoh because I have hardened his heart." The Kotzker Rebbe asks why it says, "Come to Pharaoh" when it seems it should say "Go to Pharaoh"? He answers simply that, with G-d, the word "come" is appropriate while the word "go" (which implies leaving) is not. This is because "the entire world is filled with His glory".

Now, those of us who were paying attention will remember that last week we did have a verse that said, "Go to Pharaoh" (Ex. 7:15). Is this not a contradiction? The grandson of the Kotzker, the Shem MiShmuel, reminds us that this was said in connection with Pharaoh going into to the Nile. If you look in Rashi for the reason why Pharaoh went each morning into the water, you will understand why it is not appropriate to mention a word that infers our constant closeness to
G-d in this context.

Other sources, including the Baal Haturim, give a different explanation: "Going" to Pharaoh was always dangerous, but particularly at that moment before the plagues of hail and locusts, when he was almost at wit's end. Then, as always, when we endanger ourselves to help others, the Almighty says, "Come - come with Me. I will be with you and I will protect you."

On the words "I have hardened his heart," Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotshuv explains as follows: When we become totally focused on our "I" we close up our ability to feel; therefore, the verse can also be read as, "The 'I' in us has hardened the heart...." Jews are supposed to have soft hearts.

The Torat Emet points out that the numerical value of the two main words at the beginning of the portion, "Bo" and "Pharaoh", together equal 358, the numerical value of the word "Mashiach". The redemption from Egypt was the source and empowerment of all the coming redemptions of the Jewish people, until the last and final redemption that should come soon and quickly in our days. This was hinted in the verse last week in which G-d answers Moses' question about what is His name to tell the people. The answer was, "I will be who I will be."

Rashi explains that G-d was promising that just as He is with us in this difficult exile in Egypt, so He will be with them in the future exiles. Similarly, all of the future redemptions are based on this redemption. Thus, parashat Bo depicts the very beginning of the final redemption for all of the Jewish people - wherever and whenever they may be, according to each person's own root in the Torah.

"And [the Egyptians] granted their request, and [the Israelite nation] emptied out [in Hebrew, "nitzlu"] Egypt" (Ex. 12:36) is a very important verse. As we were exiting Egypt, we collected everything of value from the local inhabitants. Rashi explains the word "nitzlu" as "they emptied". The Talmud says that they emptied Egypt like a net emptied of fish, in order to fulfill the promise G-d made to Abraham that they would leave with great wealth. Ultimately this wealth was used by the nation to serve G-d while they were in the desert.

In these times immediately before the final redemption, every Jew should therefore make certain that he uses every physical thing he comes into contact with in this world in the proper way. Every physical object has a spark of holiness exiled within it. When we use these objects properly, we redeem these sparks and allow them to return to their divine source. We will soon leave exile, and we must carry all of these sparks out of exile with us. In this way, the exile will have served its purpose. The exiles began in order to collect the sparks. The exiles will end when the sparks are redeemed.

Shabbat Shalom!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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