Perashat Bo marks the first Missva that the Jewish People received as a Nation and People. Unlike the Missva of Circumcision and the prohibition of eating the Sinew that were given to individuals Abraham and Yaakov respectively, this one was given to the entire people as a group.
The importance of this Missva and the reason that it was given first is that it gave mastery of the time to the Jewish People. As slaves, time belonged to their masters, not to them, for they did not have the freedom to act as they pleased, when they pleased. However, from then on, the Jews would be masters of their own time and their only Master would be G-d.
How often we find ourselves the slaves of our own time. We find ourselves doing what the time tells us to do instead of what we tell the time we want to do. We are slaves of our own doing or what is imposed on us. How much time do we spend doing what we really want to do, what we enjoy? Very often, our own children or family ask us to spend some quality time with them and we are often unable to because of the pressures of time. I will admit that I am the first one to be guilty of that! So, are we masters of our own time or we have remained its slaves?
The process that the Jewish Court announced was a new month was named “Sanctification of the Month”. Whereby after the testimony of two witnesses and their questioning, the Rabbinical Court will declare and sanctify the new Month. The message is that although we were given the mastery of our own time, the time has to be well spent and sanctified. If we waste our time or use it for naught, then ultimately we will be slaves to our own time.
G-d has given us 24 hours a day, and the way we spend the day reflects the way we respect and sanctify the time. Ultimately, only the A-mighty is above time; time does not affect Him, it does not change Him, nor does it enslave Him. To achieve a small sense of being above time and not being enslaved to time, we ought to imitate G-d. If we use our time to do kindness and benevolence with others and with ourselves, if we spend our time doing G-d’s biddings, we will be able to achieve some mastery of our time and we will be above time. If, on the other hand, we squander that precious Missva and gift that we were given, we will return to our status of slaves; maybe not of the Egyptians but of our own.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.