How Does Moses Cope When Expectations Fall Short?
Jan 27, 2023 By Andy Weissfeld | Commentary | Bo
Imagine the disappointment or sadness one can feel when a much more important matter fails to go as hoped. Moses finds himself in this situation in this week’s parashah, as God’s promise to free the Israelites has yet to fully play out. How does Moses cope with the fact that his expectations have not yet been met? One especially challenging section of our parashah offers a clue.Read More
Teach Your Children Well
Jan 7, 2022 By Dov Kahane | Commentary | Bo
In Parashat Bo, we read about “Pesah Mitzrayim”—God’s instructions to the Israelites for the eve of their exodus—including slaughtering the lamb and placing its blood on the doorposts as a marker of divine protection. In Exodus 12:21–28, Moshe conveys these rites, including the need to explain them to children. Many of these passages are most familiar to us from the Passover Haggadah. What can we learn from the way they have been incorporated there?Read More
Sworn to Sacred Service
Jan 22, 2021 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Bo
The most powerful ritual in American life is the oath of office administered to our President. The text is prescribed by the Constitution, but its choreography is a matter of convention. Most Presidents have placed their left hand on a Bible as they raise their right and swear to execute their office faithfully, to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” This ritual signals solemnity and anticipation for the work awaiting our new leader.Read More
The Liberating Power of the Calendar
Jan 31, 2020 By Hillel Gruenberg | Commentary | Bo
In Parashat Bo, God instructs Moses to formally begin the counting of months, with the month of Aviv (later Nisan) kicking off what we now know as the Hebrew calendar. This injunction represents the first commandment given to the Children of Israel, and only the third or fourth in the entirety of the Torah. It might seem odd that this, of all the many commandments the children of Israel will eventually receive, is handed down first, even before the exodus from Egypt was completed. However, the institution of this uniquely Hebrew calendrical system (its overlap with other frameworks aside) was a necessary precursor to support both the communal-religious practice and mental emancipation of a newly (or rather, soon-to-be) free people.Read More
Memory and the Exodus from Egypt
Jan 11, 2019 By Jan Uhrbach | Commentary | Bo
Zakhor—Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, from the house of bondage, for with a mighty hand Adonai brought you forth from this . . . (Exod. 13:3).
The Exodus from Egypt is the first of several things the Torah commands us to remember (zakhor). What does it mean to remember, and how do we accomplish it?Read More
Miracles of Biblical and Everyday Proportions
Jan 19, 2018 By Joel Alter | Commentary | Bo
Last week, God pummeled Egypt unprecedentedly with hail:
The LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire streamed down to the ground, as the LORD rained down hail upon the land of Egypt. The hail was very heavy—fire flashing in the midst of the hail—such as had not fallen on the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. (Exod. 9:23–24)
On the combination of fire and ice, Ibn Ezra comments that this was “a wonder within a wonder.”Read More
From Generation to Generation Activism is Alive!
Feb 3, 2017 By Jonathan Lipnick | Commentary | Bo | Pesah
My son Noah and I like to take walks together. It affords us time to connect—to talk about food, sports, relationships, and politics, and, once in a while, to explore an existential question.
“If I had never met my grandfather,” Noah once asked me, “is it true to say that I will never really know him?”Read More
“Us” and “Them”
Feb 3, 2017 By Paula Rose | Commentary | Bo | Pesah
“They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.”
This tongue-in-cheek summary of most Jewish holidays applies most strongly, perhaps, to the Passover Seder. We retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt, we praise and thank God for redeeming us, and then we eat a festive meal. Cast in that light, the story of the Exodus seems so straightforward. The Israelites are innocent victims, somehow pawns in God’s larger plan. The Egyptians, and especially Pharaoh, are wicked, oppressing the Israelites with forced labor.Read More