Parasha Inspiration – Bo

וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־יִשְׁאָֽלְךָ֥ בִנְךָ֛ מָחָ֖ר לֵאמֹ֣ר מַה־זֹּ֑את וְאָֽמַרְתָּ֣ אֵלָ֔יו בְּחֹ֣זֶק יָ֗ד הֽוֹצִיאָ֧נוּ יְהֹוָ֛ה מִמִּצְרַ֖יִם מִבֵּ֥ית עֲבָדִֽים: וַיְהִ֗י כִּֽי־הִקְשָׁ֣ה פַרְעֹה֘ לְשַׁלְּחֵ֒נוּ֒ וַיַּֽהֲרֹ֨ג יְהֹוָ֤ה כָּל־בְּכוֹר֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם מִבְּכֹ֥ר אָדָ֖ם וְעַד־בְּכ֣וֹר בְּהֵמָ֑ה עַל־כֵּן֩ אֲנִ֨י זֹבֵ֜חַ לַֽיהֹוָ֗ה כָּל־פֶּ֤טֶר רֶ֨חֶם֙ הַזְּכָרִ֔ים וְכָל־בְּכ֥וֹר בָּנַ֖י אֶפְדֶּֽה: וְהָיָ֤ה לְאוֹת֙ עַל־יָ֣דְכָ֔ה וּלְטֽוֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֣ין עֵינֶ֑יךָ כִּ֚י בְּחֹ֣זֶק יָ֔ד הֽוֹצִיאָ֥נוּ יְהֹוָ֖ה מִמִּצְרָֽיִם:

And it will come to pass when your son asks you in the future, saying, “What is this?” you shall say to him, “With a mighty hand did the Lord take us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass when Pharaoh was too stubborn to let us out, the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I slaughter [for a sacrifice] all males that open the womb, and every firstborn of my sons I will redeem. And it shall be for a sign upon your hand and for ornaments between your eyes, for with a mighty hand did the Lord take us out of Egypt.

Exodus 13:14-16

This week’s Torah portion gives us the first of Hashem’s commandments to the children of Israel generally. This month (Aviv, Nissan) shall be for you the beginning of months. This establishes the first month of the year is Nissan.

In Exodus 13:14, we see the commandment, “when your son asks.” This commandment refers to the story of the Exodus from Egypt. From this commandment we learn that our children will ask us about the Exodus from Egypt, and, in response to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. To fulfill this commandment, we take the time every year on the 15th of Nissan to allow and encourage her children to ask. What do they ask? The 4 questions. “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The purpose of the Passover Seder is to allow a venue for our children to ask these questions and for us to explain to them everything that took place leading up to and including the Exodus from Egypt.

Exodus 13:16 gives us yet another commandment, the commandment of tefillin. Why do we tie tefillin on our hands and wear them between our eyes? Because Hashem led us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. It is important to note that each of these commandments predates the giving of Torah at Sinai. The mitzvah of the Passover Seder, the mitzvah of tefillin, and the counting of the months, beginning with Nissan, are all given to us prior to the giving of Torah at Sinai. Shabbat Shalom.


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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.