Bo – Perasha Synopsis

In Perashat Bo the prophesy given to Abraham, Yisshak, and Yaakob begins to take shape. Before that, however, three more plagues are to befall the Egyptians, given the intransigence of Pharaoh in not allowing the Israelites to leave Egypt. Locust, brought devastation to whatever was left over from the produce and vegetation after the previous seven plagues. A thick Darkness that was tangibly felt and the last one, Plague of the Firstborn that finally broke Pharaoh back, and not only allowed the Israelites to leave, but ordered them to leave.

As the children of Israel prepare to exit Egypt as free people they also begin to form into a nation. The first directive given by Hashem is to establish a calendar. The Jewish calendar, filled with life cycle events and celebrations has been the back bone of the Jewish people. Bene Yisrael are told that Nissan will be the first month of the year. Once the months of the year are determined Bene Yisrael are given the missva of Korban Pesah – the Pesah Offering, on the tenth of that month. Through the Pesah Offering, the Israelites had to decide; are they going to identify themselves as Israelite or as Egyptians, on the side of the victims or the victimizers, as the persecuted or the persecutors. That, defined their fate and destiny. Although Hashem displays His might in Egypt, using plagues to defend his people, it is Bene Yisrael who will need to take an active role in defining their faith in Hashem and their destiny. The holiday of Pesah which is defined in this Perasha is a remembrance for generations to come of the role that Hashem played in our redemption, and the role that is expected of Bene Yisrael from that moment on.

The final moments come, the Israelites are expelled from Egypt, they are hurried to bake themselves bread for the journey and instead they end up baking Massa – a flat unleavened bread that, as a remembrance, determines the ‘bread’ that, since then, we eat on Pesah.

The Perasha concludes with a call to elevates the status of the firstborn of humans and cattle, as a celebration of the fact that Israelite firstborn were saved and protected. As a remembrance of G-d’s covenant with Bene Yisrael, their rescue and redemption from Egypt, the Missva of Tefilin is given, as ‘sign on our arm’ and a reminder ‘in between our eyes’ on our head.

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