Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Parshas Bo

Rabbi Aron Tendler

Parshas Bo

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person "goes up" to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st & 2nd Aliyot: Moshe and Aharon forewarned Pharaoh about the Locust. His advisors begged Pharaoh to consider Moshe's request, and Pharaoh attempted to negotiate with Moshe and Aharon that the children should stay behind. When his offer was refused, all negotiations broke down and Pharaoh chased Moshe and Aharon away. The Locust swallowed up Mitzrayim (Egypt), but Pharaoh still refused to send away the Jews.

3rd Aliya: Darkness enveloped Egypt for three days. Pharaoh told Moshe that he could take out his people, but he had to leave the cattle behind. Moshe refused and Pharaoh forewarned Moshe that he could not come to him again. In truth, the next time they saw each other would be after the Death of the First Born, when Pharaoh went to Moshe.

4th Aliya: Moshe forewarned the Egyptians about the Death of the First Born. In 12:2 Hashem (G-d) commanded Moshe and Aharon with the very first Mitzvah to be given to the Nation. The very first Korban Pesach was described along with the Mitzvos of Matzoh, Chametz, and Pesach.

5th Aliya: The Bnai Yisroel were commanded to mark the inside of their doors with the blood of the Korban Pesach.

6th Aliya: The plague of the Death of the First Born left Mitzrayim in mourning. Pharaoh and the Egyptians hurried the Jews out of Mitzrayim. Approximately 600,000 men besides women, children, and the elderly (3,000,000 total) as well as about 1,000,000 non-Jews (the Eruv Rav) left Mitzrayim during the Exodus. It was the year 2448, and the Pasuk says that the Jews had been in Mitzrayim for 430 years. (exactly 430 years from the Bris Bain Habisarim - The Covenant Between the Halves) The laws of the Korban Pesach were reviewed

7th Aliya: The Parsha concludes with a review of the laws of Pesach as well as introducing the Mitzvos of Pehter Chamor - the commandment to exchange all first born, male donkeys for a sheep; Pidyon Haben - redeeming the first born male child; and the Mitzvah of Tefillin.

Summary of The Haftorah:
Haftorah Bo
Yirmiyah 46:13

This week's Haftorah is from Yirmiyah 46:13. The rise of Nevuchadnetzar and Babylon to world dominance heralded the destruction of Mitzrayim (Egypt) eight centuries after the time of the Exodus. Mitzrayim had been a dominant power in the region for many centuries and saw the decline of Israel as an opportunity to gain even greater power. Israel, concerned about her own fate in the face of Babylon's onslaught, turned to Egypt for help. Yirmiyahu had already predicted in last week's Haftorah that Bavel would turn its fury and strength against Egypt, conquering her and dispersing her inhabitants. This would force Israel to stand-alone and meet her destiny. Israel's only option for salvation would have to come from Hashem (G-d) and Hashem alone. In this week's Haftorah Yirmiyahu continues his prophecy of the destruction of Mitzrayim. This is the obvious connection to our Parsha in which the proud and arrogant Pharaoh is bought to his knees by the awesome hand of Hashem. So to o, Bavel, acting as Hashem's agent, would punish Mitzrayim for her continued arrogance and pride.

The Bnai Yisroel (Jewish nation) would be directly impacted by Mitzrayim's destruction; however, they are reassured that Hashem will ultimately deliver them, so long as they keep their faith and trust in Hashem's promise.