Parashat Bo

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Parashat Bo is the third parsha in the Book of Shemos and the 3rd week of Shovavim. It contains 105 pesukim. For the Haftora, Yermiyahu's prophecy to Egypt is read.


[edit] Plague of Locusts

Moshe and Aharon warn Pharaoh about the impending plague of locusts. Pharaoh is urged by his ministers to release the Jews. After agreeing to only release the adult males, Pharaoh expels them from his presence. Moshe raises his rod over Egypt and millions of locust swarm into Egypt devouring all surviving crops and dimming the sunlight of the land. Pharaoh apologizes to Moshe, who in-turn prays to Hashem and the locusts are blown into the sea. Hashem once again hardens Pharaohs heart and he refuses to release the Jews.

[edit] Hardening of Pharaoh's Heart

Hashem tells Moshe to go threaten and warn Pharaoh,[1] saying that He purposely hardened his heart, this time hardening the heart of his ministers as well.[2] This would enable Hahsem to continue afflicting them in order that further generations could be told how He tormented and made mockery of Egypt and the awesome miracles that were performed there and they will know that He is the Lord.

[edit] Hearts of His Ministers

There was much conferencing and debating done by Pharaoh and his ministers regarding the release of the Jews. When the ministers softened, Pharaoh remained tough, during the few times that Pharaoh softened his ministers hardened and pushed him to continue. When they both happened mellow, Hashem would come and harden their hearts.[3]

[edit] Come to Pharaoh

When Moshe was told to approach Pharaoh in his palace, Hashem would use the term 'come', when commanded to approach him at the Nile River, the term 'go' was used.[4] 'Bo - בֹּא' also has a numerical equivalence of three, alluding to the three remaining plagues that were still to come.[5]

[edit] The Warning

Moshe and Aharon once again approach Pharaoh and in the name of Hashem and inquire why he refuses to humble himself before Hashem and free the Jews to serve Him, warning him that a refusal will bring about a plague of locusts in the Egyptian borders. This would be the largest locust attack to ever hit Egypt since its creation. They would cover the entire land, blocking the sunlight and devouring all that remained from the Plague of Hail and the trees of the fields. They would fill up all the homes of the Egyptians.

During this encounter Moshe also hinted to Pharaoh about the upcoming 'plague of darkness' that did not receive any subsequent warning. Similarly, around this time Moshe already instructed the Jews to begin preparing themselves to preform the 'great inspection' of the Egyptian's homes, that would later occur during the 'plague of darkness'.[6] Moshe noticed Pharaohs ministers glancing at each other in belief but afraid to speak up and side with him against their ruler while he was in the room. Moshe therefore turned and left Pharaoh, exiting and giving them an opportunity to conference and possibly repent.[7]

[edit] Urging of the Ministers

Upon the exit of Moshe and Aharon, Pharaoh's ministers implore him to free the Jews so they can rid themselves from this obstacle that threatens to destroy the country. Moshe and Aharon are called back by a messenger[8] and Pharaoh inquires exactly who they wish to have participate in their journey of worship. Moshe replies that the entire nation including the seniors, children and livestock must go to the festival of Hashem, pointing out that just like all these groups performed slave labor to him, it was now befitting that they service Hashem.[9] Pharaoh replies that he sees in astrological readings a star of blood and annihilation called 'Raah' rising in their direction, therefore he only agrees to the adult males leaving. Additionally it is only routine for adult men to partake in the sacrifice rituals that they were requesting to celebrate.[10] Their requesting allowance for the departure of the women and children is proof that they plan on fleeing instead of returning following the celebrations.[11] Pharaoh has Moshe and Aharon evicted from his presence.[12]

[edit] The Star of Raah

Pharaoh correctly saw an impending mass blood shed on the Jewish Nation were they to leave Egypt. This almost took place following the sin of the golden calf, where the Nation was almost exterminated were it not for the intervention of Moshe. In fact Moshe used this very statement of Pharaoh as one of his arguments to save the Jews, saying it would allow the Egyptians to claim Hashem only took the Jews out of Egypt knowing they would regardless be slaughtered along the way. In the end Hashem was appeased and the destined blood shed manifested itself through the mass circumcision performed by Yehoshua following the crossing of the Jordan River.[13]

[edit] The Inception

Hashem tells Moshe to stretch forth his hand on the Land of Egypt to bring fourth the locust that will devour all the produce remaining from the Plague of Hail. Moshe stretched forth his rod on Egypt and Hashem blew an eastern wind that entire day and following night. At dawn of the following morning the wind caries the cloud of locust into Egypt, which proceeded to descend all over boundaries of the land, covering the entire ground surface, making it unseeable. This was the thickest swarm of single species of locust to ever attack in the previous and future history of the world. During the time of Yoel the swarm was thicker but was composed of four species of locusts. So thick was the swarm that it obscured the view of all the earth and blotted out the sun,[14] darkening the land. The locust then proceeded to completely devour all the vegetation and fruit trees surviving from the hail. No greenery was left in the trees and vegetation in the fields throughout the entire land of Egypt.

[edit] The Punishment

As part of their chores, the Egyptians made the Jews plant wheat, barley, lentils and all types of beans. When the locust came they devoured all this work and destroyed these fields so the Egyptians would not benefit from them.[15] Any tree bark gnawed by the locust never healed, remaining in that state for the remainder of its lifespan.[16] Aside from the foliage, the locust entered the Egyptian's homes devouring their clothing and ornaments. They would enter their water ducts, clogging them up. There were instances where the locust fluttered on Egyptians faces and chewed out their eyes.[17]

[edit] The Withdrawal

Pharaoh hastened to summon Moshe and Aharon and apologizes, saying he has sinned to Hashem and also to them for having them evicted.[18] He requests that he be pardoned this one time and they should pray to Hashem to remove the death of the locust. Moshe left Pharaoh and prayed to Hashem. Hashem brought a strong western wind that carried the locust into the Red Sea. Not a single locust remains in Egypt, even the dead salted locusts that had been caught by the Egyptians and preserved by the barrel to avoid future starvation, came back to life and departed.[19] Hashem once again hardened Pharaoh's heart and he did not release the Jews.

[edit] Plague of Darkness

Hashem tells Moshe to stretch forth his hand toward the heavens and there will be darkness over the land of Egypt. Moshe does so and darkness descends over Egypt, even darker then the darkness of night,[20] with a thickness that made it tangible.[20] For three days the Egyptians were unable to see one another, this was followed by an additional three days where the darkness was so thick that they could not move. If an Egyptian was sitting, he was unable to stand, and if he was standing, he was unable to sit.[21] The Jews retained light in all their dwellings.

[edit] Death of Wicked Jews

Among the Jews of that generation were many wicked people who did not want to leave Egypt. They died during the three days of darkness, so that the Egyptians would not see their downfall and say, the Jews too are being smitten like us.[21] These people lacked faith in the power of the True Tzadik Moshe.[22] Some also preferred slavery to the intense spiritual ascents that they would have to undergo once leaving Egypt that would divest them from the physicality they were comfortable with, in every form and shape. This fear was proven true when the Nation had to rectify the attributes of all the lower seven Sefirot in the short period of 49 days, a fraction of which would take a regular person a lifetime of hard work.[23]

[edit] Rummage of Egyptian Assets

During the final three days of darkness, the Jews went on a campaign rummaging through all the valuables of the Egyptians and seeking all their hiding places. Although they took nothing at this point they later used this information to contradict the Egyptians denials of owning valuables when they requested them on loan before leaving Egypt. When an Egyptian would say that he had nothing, the Jew would reply stating exactly what assets he owned and where exactly they were concealed.[21]

[edit] Death of Firstborn Warning

[edit] Another Refusal

Pharaoh summoned Moshe and permits all the Jews including the children to leave, however their cattle must remain in Egypt. Moshe replies that since they do not know yet what amount of animals will be required for the holiday sacrifice they must take all their livestock with them, to insure they have enough, not one hoof is to remain.[24] He then informs Pharaoh that in the end he himself will supply additional sacrifices and burnt offerings from his own. Hashem strengthens Pharaho's heart and he once again refuses the request. Pharaoh commands Moshe to leave and warns him to never to visit him and see his face again saying he will die the day he tries. Moshe confirmed this telling Pharaoh he had spoken correctly, at the right time[25] and he will no longer see his face.

[edit] The Prophecy

As Moshe was standing in front of Pharaoh he enters a state of prophecy. Hashem tell him that he will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians after which they will completely evict the Jewish nation. He then requests Moshe to please instruct the Jews[26] to borrow golden and silver vessels from the Egyptians, so the righteous Avraham will not say Hashem fulfilled His promise to enslave and oppress the Jews but not His promise that afterwards they will leave with great possessions.[26] Hashem made the Jews favorable in the Egyptians' eyes and they were looked upon in great grace. Moshe was very respected in the eyes for the Egyptians and Pharaoh's ministers.

[edit] The Warning

Moshe turn to Pharaoh and informs him that around midnight of the following night Hashem will navigate inside Egypt killing all firstborn from the royal crown prince to the firstborn of the slave woman who is behind the millstones, as all first born animals. A great cry will then rise throughout Egypt like was never heard before and will never be heard again. To all the Jews and their animals, no dog will bark, to differentiate between them and the Egyptians. All of Pharaoh's ministers will then come down and bow before Moshe pleading him to take the Jewish Nation that follows him[27] and afterwords they will leave. This in essence was directed at Pharaoh himself, however in order to accord respect to the royalty, Moshe termed it as 'Pharaoh's ministers'. After he had completed his words,[27] Moshe then leaves with burning anger that Pharaoh instructed him never again to see his face.[27]

Hashem tells Moshe that Pharaoh will not heed his warning, allowing Him to bring three more miracles; the plague of the firstborn, the splitting of the Red Sea, and the stirring of the Egyptians into the sea.[28] Despite all miracles Moshe and Aharon had performed before Pharaoh, Hashem strengthened his heart and he did not let the Jews out of his land.

[edit] Around Midnight

Hashem said he would strike the first born exactly at midnight. Yet Moshe feared that Pharaoh’s astrologers who did not have the ability to calculate the exact moment of Chatzot, would later claim that he was a liar, saying the plague occurred a little before or after. Moshe therefore said "around Chatzot".[26]

Additionally Moshe himself lacked a complete grasp on the mystery of 'Chatzot'. He was aware that the main redemption would be the 'final redemption' which is dependent on the mourning of the righteous each night at Chatzot about the exile of the Shichina. However Moshe was unable to determine exactly when it would occur, since it is very concealed from even the greatest Tzadikim. Therefore when he wished to allude in his words to the 'final redemption' since that was always Moshe's end focus, he was only able to do it with vagueness, saying; 'around Chatzot I will pass through Egypt' (Egypt alludes to all the other exiles as well), since it is very vague and concealed. Dovid HaMelech however, who himself was an aspect of Moshiach, was able to reference Chatzot directly.[29]

[edit] Captives, Slaves & Animals

Firstborn captives died to discredit a possible claim that their deity was not extracting vengeance upon the Egyptians for all their suffering.[30] Firstborn slaves died since they too had Jews labor for them and were happy about their misfortune.[30] Since the Egyptians worshiped domesticated animals and when Hashem punishes a nation he also punishes its deities, the first born animals also perished.[30]

[edit] Kidush Hachodesh

Hashem spoke to Moshe and to Aharon in the land of Egypt, telling them that the current month of Nissan should be the head and first month of the year. This would make Iyar the second month and Sivan the third.[31] Hashem also showed Moshe the moon at its renewal stage, stating that when the moon reached that point, it is a new month[31] and the time to sanctify it. Aharon is given the honor of being included in the first commandment since he had worked and toiled with the miracles just like Moshe.[32] This prophesy was given outside the city since it was full of idols.[32] It began during the day, right before sunset, continuing into the night so Hashem could exhibit the actual moon as an illustration of his words.[31]

Moshe found it difficult to determine the precise moment of the moon's renewal and what size it must appear before it becomes fit for sanctification.[31] Hashem showed Moshe with His finger the moon in the sky at the moment it was fit for sanctification.

[edit] Kurban Pesach

Hashem told Moshe and Aharon to instruct the entire Jewish community that each parental home should take a lamb for each household on the tenth of Nissan. If a household is too small for a lamb, then they are to group with a neighbor and take one together. According to the number of people, according to each one's ability to eat they shall split each lamb. The lamb must be perfect and wound free, in its first year. They may take either a baby sheep or a baby goat.

They shall keep the lamb for inspection from the 10th until the 14th of Nissan, upon which the entire Jewish community shall slaughter it in the afternoon. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they will eat it. On that night they shall eat the flesh, roasted over the fire along with matzot and bitter marar herbs. They are forbidden to eat it rare or boiled in water. Instead it must be roasted over the fire its head with its legs and with its innards. It is forbidden to leave over any of it until morning. Whatever is left over until the morning should be burned by fire. They are to eat it with their loins girded, shoes on their feet, staff in their hands and eat it in haste for it is a Pesach sacrifice to Hashem.

Hashem will pass through the land of Egypt on this night smiting every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast and will wreak judgments upon all the gods of Egypt. The blood will serve as a sign upon the houses where the Jews are located. Hashem will see the blood and skip over them and they will not be destroyed by plague when He smites the land of Egypt.

[edit] Holiday of Pesach

This day shall serve as a memorial and should be celebrated as a festival for Hashem, throughout all generations it shall be celebrated as an everlasting holiday. For seven days they should eat Matzot. On the the preceding day they shall clear away all leaven from their houses. Whoever eats leaven from the first day until the seventh day, that person will receive Kares and his soul shall be cut off from the Jewish Nation. The first and the seventh days shall be complete holidays, no work may be performed on them aside from what is needed for cooking food, that alone may be performed. They shall guard the Matzot, for on this day Hashem took the Jewish legions out of Egypt. They shall observe this day throughout all generations as an everlasting law. In Nissan from the evening of the fourteenth until the evening of the twenty first day they shall eat Matzot. For seven days leaven shall not be found in their homes. Whoever eats leaven will be cut off from the Jewish Nation, regardless if he is a Jew or a stranger in the land. No leaven chametz is to be eaten throughout all their dwellings, only Matzot.

[edit] Death of Firstborn

[edit] The Final Plague

Pharaoh and his ministers ability to harden their hearts despite all the great suffering being afflicted upon their country, was beyond the capability of the Kilpah of Mitzrayim and emanated from the much higher Klipa of Amalek. Amalek is the first and foremost of the Nations, manifesting the essence of the Bichor / Firstborn of the Sitra Acher. Therefore when Hashem smote the firstborns, the Klipah of Amalek temperately lost its hold on the Egyptians since it had been grasping on to the element that was closest to its essence. Therefore Pharaoh and his ministers were reduced to nourishing off their own Klipa, no longer having the energy needed to harden their hearts, causing Makat Bechorot to do what no other plague had done until that point.

Because the Klipah of Amalek excels in revival and had not been harmed itself, only its hold over Egypt, it soon found a new way to leach on, causing the Egyptians to chase the Jews into the Yam Suf. It is well known that members of Amalek were amongst the group that reported the Jews confusion in the desert to Pharaoh and then edged him into the case. When the Egyptians were destroyed in the Yam Suf, the Klipah of Amalek renewed itself again, this time directly attacking the Jews in the desert.[33]

[edit] Exodus from Egypt

[edit] Holiness of Firstborns

[edit] Peter Chamor

[edit] References

  1. ^ Rashi
  2. ^ Ikar Sefsi Chachamim
  3. ^ Avoseue / Medirash Hagadol 10 /1
  4. ^ Baal Haturim
  5. ^ Baal Haturim
  6. ^ Baal Haturim
  7. ^ Avosenue in name of Shimos Rbba 13 / 4 and Rvash 10 / 7
  8. ^ Rashi
  9. ^ Avoseue / Rag 10 /9
  10. ^ Rashi
  11. ^ Avoseue / Shemos Rabba 13 / 5
  12. ^ Ikar Sefsi Chachamim
  13. ^ Rashi
  14. ^ Avosenue
  15. ^ Avosenue in name of Eliyahu Rbba 7
  16. ^ Avosenue / Medrash Hagadol 10 / 15
  17. ^ Avosenue / Lekach Tov 10 / 14
  18. ^ Avosenue
  19. ^ Rashi
  20. ^ a b Rashi Shemos 10:21
  21. ^ a b c Rashi Shemos 10:22
  22. ^ Likutay Halachos
  23. ^ Shover Zadim Parshas Bo
  24. ^ Rashi Shemos 10:26
  25. ^ Rashi Shemos 10:29
  26. ^ a b c Rashi Shemos 11:2
  27. ^ a b c Rashi Shemos 11:8
  28. ^ Rashi Shemos 11:9
  29. ^ Likutay Halachos, Hilchos Matana 5/47
  30. ^ a b c Rashi Shemos 11:5
  31. ^ a b c d Rashi Shemos 12:2
  32. ^ a b Rashi Shemos 12:1
  33. ^ Shover Zadim based on Likutay Halachos Hilchas Nachalos 4/14

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