Weekly Reading Insights: Bo 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Bo

To be read on 6 Shvat 5766 (Feb.4)

Torah: 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:1566/Bo)

So this verse as well [should be interpreted as:] "at the division of the night," [in other words] "when He divided the night." Moses knew that G-d would not make judgments until He had divided the night. And so indeed it was - He did not make His judgments until He had divided the night, and then He made His judgments in the second half of the night. This is why the verse states, "Halfway through the night...," [that is to say] in the second half of the night.

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:1566/Bo)

[This relationship between malchut and the months] beings with the month of Nisan. Now, know that all the months are called the "head" month, because they all are [in some way] a beginning. And therefore, every month has the larger number of days, i.e. 30.

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

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From Rabbi Moshe Alshich (O:1566/Bo)

When G-d dispatches an agent to kill those whom He wants to kill, such an agent, i.e. an angel, does not have the ability to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked. Also, the Zohar says that whenever there is a punitive activity, even by G-d directly, additional destructive forces become active also. Thirdly, when a person is guilty of some misdemeanor, these forces of destruction attach themselves to him and whenever someone else is being punished in the vicinity of such a guilt-ridden person, that person is also liable to become a victim at such a time.

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


"You shall say, 'This is a Pesach sacrifice to G-d'." [12:27]

In exile, when it is impossible to offer the Temple sacrifices, the alternative is to offer words of Torah and prayer instead. When "you shall say them," is solely for the sake of G-d, then "it is a Pesach sacrifice to G-d," as if you had brought a proper sacrifice.

Kedushat Levi


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"This new month will be for you the first of the months of the year." (12:1)

In the beginning of the month of Nissan, Moshe came to the Jewish people and told them, "This month (HaChodesh Hazeh) you will be redeemed." They objected and said, "But G-d said we would be in exile for 400 years, and we have been in Egypt for only 210 years!" Moshe answered, "Since G-d wants to redeem you, He is skipping all these years".

So too when the time comes for redemption, Mashiach will tell us,
"This month (Ha'chodesh Hazeh) you will be redeemed!" The Jewish
people will object and say, "Our Master and Teacher, King Mashiach, how
can we be redeemed? G-d said we first must be enslaved by 70

And Mashiach will answer "Since we have been spread out in many
countries, it is as if all the Jewish people went there. Therefore,
we have fulfilled G-d's condition and this month we will be redeemed!"

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:1566/Bo)

The Times had an article about US soldiers buying expensive body armor. The article asked 'Who should pay for it?', and 'If a soldier did pay for it, but it inhibits his ability to fight, should he be allowed to wear the armor to protect his life?' What does Torah tell us about a soldier's rights and obligations? Historically speaking, anyone having to be a soldier was not popular. Army service, other than in Israel, is far from a popular choice for Jews. Nevertheless, in this week's Torah portion the Jewish people are called an 'army of G-d' (12/41). The Ra'ava writes that just as angels are G-d's army in heaven, so the Jewish people are G-d's army on earth. What does being a soldier in G-d's army require of us?

The Rebbe Rayatz writes that, primarily, an army protects. A soldier's job is to be constantly alert to defend his country. Two attitudes characterize a soldier's obligation. First, judgments are never made according to their own understanding and perception. They always follow orders from superiors. Second, while a servant may be expected to work hard, what may be expected of a soldier is real self sacrifice. Whether while defending or attacking, a soldier has to always be aware, always on duty, and always ready to give his life.

G-d called the Jewish people many names in their journey through exile to redemption. Sometimes 'children' ("My child, My first born, Israel"); sometimes 'My nation' ("I have seen the suffering of My nation"); 'servant' ("The Jewish people to Me are My servants"). Yet, from the time G-d prepared us to leave Egypt, the Jewish people were called 'an army'.

The Rebbe Rayatz tells a personal story about himself: "When I was called to serve in the (Russian) army, my father (the Rebbe Rashab) told me that there are a number of principles that we can learn from a soldier that are very important to incorporate into our daily service to G-d:
1) A soldier is not in charge of himself, rather all of his time and energy are dedicated to his mission.
2) A soldier is constantly a soldier. When he eats, walks in the street, wakes up, goes to sleep, speaks, etc.-during all his activities, he is always a soldier.
Every Jew is a soldier in the service of G-d!

Also, just as there are officers who have a special ability to instruct and educate soldiers, and who are appointed to this important task, every Jew must appoint a guide who can direct him in his 'service' in G-d's army doing Torah and mitzvot.

From another angle, the Medrash explains that one of G-d's names-'Tzva-kot'-is used to describe G-d's war against evil. What are the principles of war? To conquer, obtain the spoils of war, and be victorious over one's enemy. To accomplish this, a ruler will use all the resources at his command, even resources accumulated over generations, in order to win the battle. Why is victory so important that we are prepared to sacrifice so much?

Chassidut explains that 'victory' is more important to us even than 'pleasure'. Therefore, even the benefit of retaining one's assets (by not going to war), cannot withstand the aspiration to victory. Kabbala explains that victory is something tied to the essential aspects of our souls, more than any of the other soul manifestations. This is the driving force behind a leader's preparedness to give up everything, even his own life.

In a physical battle, a ruler relinquishes assets to sustain his army and be victorious. So too, must be done in the battle of G-d against the evil and spiritual darkness which seek to rule the world. This is the inner dimension for calling the Jewish people, 'G-d's soldiers'. We are entrusted to do G-d's will, and therefore G-d opens up for us all of His treasuries, so we can succeed against our foes. (Collected from different talks of the Rebbe Rayatz, from the book Ora LaTorah)

Shabbat Shalom , Shaul

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

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