Shabbat Shalom Dear Readers Parshat Bo 5776

January 15, 2016

The Tenth Plague of Egypt exhibited 1802 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

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The following post is an edited version of a post that appeared last year on Globe Tribune.Info

This week, Parshat Bo, candle lighting, which is 18 minutes before sunset will be at 4:35 PM in Brooklyn, New York. Chabad.org has a section of their web site on which you can look up the candle lighting time in your locality. It also lists the time on Saturday night after nightfall when Shabbat ends. In addition to articles on the weekly Torah portion, there is a variety of articles on topics of interest that can be printed out for reading on Shabbat. Aish.com also has a lot of worthwhile articles as well on a wide assortment of topics.

This week, Chabad.org has an article titled The Miraculous Downfall of Ivan the EvilIt is a true story passed down through a Jewish family about how their ancestors, Eliezer and Rochel Leah Paltiel miraculously escaped a campaign by a virulent Jew hater against their family and the Jews of their region.

Aish.com has an article about a young man whose relationship with a woman who was not Jewish developed along with his growing interest in Judaism. Her negative feelings towards Jews became apparent in time for him to cut off the relationship. Whatever one’s faith, it is critical to understand the importance of choosing a spouse who will pass on the heritage, culture and values that one deems important. When a husband and wife can not agree about the faith that is to be passed on, it creates conflicts that adversely affect children who grow up in such an environment. Buying a Christmas tree and putting it next to a menorah does not cause a new faith to spring forth.  Judaism developed through a succession of patriarchs, prophets and sages over centuries. Other faiths evolved over centuries as well. Adopting a faith based on romantic considerations is likely to have unforeseen, negative consequences.

 

This week’s parsha deals with the last three plagues and the departure from Egypt, a defining event in the birth of the Jewish people. Being freed from Egyptian slavery was ultimately only a preparation for dealing with our inner limitations and need for perfection. The greatest struggles in the lives of individuals, and of societies has always been the inner struggle even more than the battles with external oppression. The Arab Spring, the overthrow of Baby Doc, Haiti’s former dictator in 1986, as well as the Russian and French revolutions, show that the biggest challenge to a people comes after they have celebrated victory. It is worth noting that the 1917 Russian Revolution marked the start of a 70 year attempt to remake human society in the image of communist ideology, a task that proved too daunting. Yet again, the revolution that overthrew communism has shown us that changing the individual is a lot harder than overthrowing a regime.

In this parsha, the commandments of consecrating the first-born, of removing leaven from one’s home prior to Passover, eating Matzoh on Passover, telling one’ children the story of the Exodus and putting on tefillin on the head and on the arm are all a part of this week’s Torah portion.

The miracles that were performed by G-d as a part of the Exodus were not simply a spectacular show. Each miracle contained within it lessons that give us insight into ourselves and into the world. It is to deepen our understanding of these miracles that we recount them at the seder every year.

What is most telling about the attitudes inculcated through Jewish teachings is that our celebration of the Exodus does not involve rejoicing in the destruction of our enemies. Indeed, when we mention each of the plagues, we spill a drop or wine out of the cup, indicating that our joy is diminished when it becomes necessary to shed blood. It is considered to be profoundly sad when a human being, with all of their amazing potential, descends into such a level of criminality that they must be killed for the protection of society.

May it be G-d’s will that the ultimate redemption and the rebuilding of the Third Temple commence speedily in our time.

 

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