Torah Weekly

For the week ending 20 January 2024 / 10 Tevet 5784

Parshat Bo

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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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 Jews. The country, except for the Jewish People, is then engulfed in a palpable darkness. Pharaoh calls for Moshe and tells him to take all the Jews 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’s going to bring one more plague, the death of the firstborn, and then the Jews 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 Jewish People 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 doorposts, and its roasted meat eaten. The blood on the doorpost will be a sign that their homes will be passed-over when G-d strikes the firstborn of Egypt. The Jewish People are told to memorialize this day as the Exodus from Egypt by never eating chametz on Pesach.

Moshe relays G-d's commands, and the Jewish People fulfill them flawlessly. G-d sends the final plague, killing the firstborn, and Pharaoh sends the Jews out of Egypt. G-d tells Moshe and Aharon the laws concerning the Pesach sacrifice, pidyon haben (redemption of the firstborn son) and tefillin.

·Pesachim 68a


The Day After Gaza

“And this is how you will eat it…” (12:11)

It seems to me that there is no natural solution to this current military clash in Israel’s war of self-defense. One side says they will not settle for a state unless it’s from the river to the sea. And Israel isn't going to allow itself to be given a set of water wings and happily paddle out into the Med with Tel Aviv fading into the distance.

This is a war of the clash of ideals. From the messianic ideals of the chalutzim, the Jewish settlers on the so-called West Bank in Judea and Samaria, to the ideals of the Muslim Brotherhood and its scions, Hamas and Hezbollah, who believe in the coming of the final Caliph and the entire world subject to Sharia law.

As a believing Jew, it’s clear to me that the only solution to this situation will be the coming of the Mashiach, the Messiah, who we daily hope and wait for. And never in the last seventy years has it been easier to expect his imminent arrival.

“And this is how you will eat it.”

Hashem instructed the Jewish People to eat the Korban Pesach, the Pesach offering, with their ‘loins girded,’ the belts tightened, and ready to go out on the road to exile.

However, Moshe refused Pharaoh’s pleas for them to leave at night and they didn’t leave till the following morning, so why was it necessary to dress in this manner?

We are taught that the Jewish People were not worthy of a miraculous redemption. They were hovering above the lowest level of spiritual corruption in Egypt, but had they not been redeemed at that moment, they would have been consumed by Egypt’s contamination.

Their imminent demise was brought home to them by the manner in which they were to eat the offering, to remind them that they were only being redeemed by an extraordinary act of Hashem’s mercy.

In Nusach Sefard, we say in the Kedusha of Mussaf on Shabbat Morning: “Behold, I have redeemed you at the end as at the beginning to be to you as a G-d.”

Right now, do we, the Jewish People, deserve a miraculous rescue from the fury of our enemies? Nobody knows. But we can be sure that just like at the beginning in Egypt, when Hashem redeemed us when we were not worthy, He, in His infinite Mercy, will redeem us again. May it be speedily, in our days!

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