What’s Really Bad for the Jews?

What’s Really Bad for the Jews?

Jan 8, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Bo

Apparently the wonders and miracles of the plagues were not enough to inspire all of the Israelites to want to leave Egypt. Moreover, according to this midrash, not all of the Israelites were slaves.

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Asking Questions

Asking Questions

Jan 27, 1996 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Bo

Isidor I. Rabi, who was born in Austria in 1898, won the Nobel prize in physics in 1944.

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Trading Pharaoh for God?

Trading Pharaoh for God?

Jan 31, 1998 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Bo | Pesah

Everyone knows that four children are mentioned in the Passover Haggadah and that one of them is the evil child. Probably fewer of us are aware that the question attributed to this child is a biblical verse found in this week’s Torah portion, “What do you mean by this rite [avodah]? (Exodus 12:26). 

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Darkness As Threat & Haven

Darkness As Threat & Haven

Jan 19, 2002 By Lauren Eichler Berkun | Commentary | Bo

In an emotional television interview, the last person rescued alive from the World Trade Center described her panic when she saw that night had arrived while she was still trapped beneath the wreckage. Once this woman realized that the light had faded from between the slabs of concrete and metal and that it was truly dark outside, she lost hope of ever being rescued.

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Pesah Three Ways

Pesah Three Ways

Jan 27, 2007 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Bo | Pesah

Unambiguous ambiguity is the hallmark of philology, the study of words. The deeper one delves into the meaning of a given word, the more that particular word yields to shades of meaning. This week’s Torah reading, Parashat Bo, presents us with one such example of multilayered understandings and readings. As the Children of Israel depart from Egypt, God issues the first commandment to the Israelites: “This month [Nisan] will mark for you the beginning of the months.” (Exodus 12:2). How are the Israelites to mark this new month of Nisan? On the tenth day of the month, the Israelites are commanded to select a lamb which will serve as the Pesah offering to God. What precisely is the meaning of Pesah?

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Life’s Cycles

Life’s Cycles

Jan 31, 2004 By Melissa Crespy | Commentary | Bo | Shabbat Rosh Hodesh

In the midst of recounting the horrifying last three plagues in Egypt, God tells Moses and Aaron: “This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2) As the Etz Hayim Humash remarks: “A slave does not control his or her own time; it belongs to someone else.” (p. 380). One of the first steps in the liberation of the Israelites, then, was for them to have their own calendar – to measure their lives and their holy moments in their own way, not at the dictates of others.

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Fourth Sons

Fourth Sons

Jan 11, 2003 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Bo | Pesah

I am fortunate to be able to teach to people who know how to ask questions. My students are part of the universe of transmitters and receivers of Judaism. Yet I sometimes wonder about people who are not in my orbit. It is as if a traveler comes to Earth and occupies himself with its inhabitants and their activities, and then looks out into the vast deep darkness of space and wonders who is out there in that domain of silence.

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Moses on Trial

Moses on Trial

Jan 23, 1999 By Robert Harris | Commentary | Bo

Perhaps by now you have seen the animated feature, The Prince of Egypt. In one scene, the character of Moses is portrayed as being plagued(!) by his conscience immediately after killing the Egyptian who had been beating the Israelite (see Exodus 2:12). In fact, the movie eliminates the secretive nature of this act as the Biblical narrative presents it (look it up!), and instead depicts Moses as fleeing Egypt — not because the Egyptian authorities are seeking his life — but as a result of his moral abhorrence of his own act. The taking of a human life is judged by this animated pacifist as reason for self-exile from society. Unfortunately, the film does not take up the issue of the wholesale loss of Egyptian life in the ensuing plagues sequence and splitting of the sea. In the movie, Moses never questions God’s fierce methods in freeing the Israelites from slavery. We shall return to this issue below.

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