Torah Weekly

For the week ending 27 January 2007 / 8 Shevat 5767

Parshat Bo

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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G-d tells Moshe that He is hardening Pharaoh's heart so that through miraculous plagues the world will know for all time that He is the one true G-d. Pharaoh is warned about the plague of locusts and is told how severe it will be. Pharaoh agrees to release only the men, but Moshe insists that everyone must go. During the plague, Pharaoh calls for Moshe and Aharon to remove the locusts, and he admits he has sinned. G-d ends the plague but hardens Pharaoh's heart, and again Pharaoh fails to free the Jews. The country, except for the Jewish People, is then engulfed in a palpable darkness. Pharaoh calls for Moshe and tells him to take all the Jews out of Egypt, but to leave their flocks behind. Moshe tells him that not only will they take their own flocks, but Pharaoh must add his own too. Moshe tells Pharaoh that G-d is going to bring one more plague, the death of the first-born, and then the Jews will leave Egypt. G-d again hardens Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh warns Moshe that if he sees him again, Moshe will be put to death. G-d tells Moshe that the month of Nissan will be the chief month. The Jewish people are commanded to take a sheep on the 10th of the month and guard it until the 14th. The sheep is then to be slaughtered as a Pesach offering, its blood put on their door-posts, and its roasted meat eaten. The blood on the door-post will be a sign that their homes will be passed-over when G-d strikes the first-born of Egypt. The Jewish People are told to memorialize this day as the Exodus from Egypt by never eating chametz on Pesach. Moshe relays G-d's commands, and the Jewish People fulfill them flawlessly. G-d sends the final plague, killing the first-born, and Pharaoh sends the Jews out of Egypt. G-d tells Moshe and Aharon the laws concerning the Pesach sacrifice, pidyon haben (redemption of the first-born son) and tefillin.


The Secret of Persuasion

“…and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son… that you may know I am Hashem” (10:2)

A true story.

After a presentation on Jewish outreach, a member of the audience approached the rabbi, “Rabbi, do you know I was able to bring a 92-year old lady back to Torah and mitzvot."

“Wow! How did you do that?” asked the rabbi.

“I own a nursing home, and this lady, Mrs. Greenberg, came to live there. Of course we ordered her kosher food.

A couple of weeks later, the state inspector for nursing homes came to check, and she complained to him, ‘They don’t give me normal food, here! They give me weird food. I want normal food like everyone else here.’ The inspector called me in on the spot and said, ‘This lady says you don’t give her normal food.’ So I replied, ‘We’re giving her better than normal food, we’re giving her kosher food.’

‘I don’t want kosher, I want normal!’ she said.

‘But, Mrs. Greenberg, kosher food is better for your health.’

‘You think, at ninety-two, I’m worried about cholesterol? Just give me normal food!’

‘But, Mrs. Greenberg, kosher food tastes better.’

‘At my age, you think I can taste anything? I just want normal food like everyone else.'

‘But, Mrs. Greenberg, kosher food is more expensive than regular food.’

‘Keep the extra and just give me NORMAL FOOD!’

The inspector said to me, ‘Listen, I’m coming back here in three months, and if you’re not giving her the same food as everyone else, I’m going to close you down.’

So that’s what happened, Rabbi, I persuaded her to eat kosher. Now she lights Shabbat candles and everything.”

“Yes,” said the rabbi, “but what did you say to her to convince her to change?”

“I have no idea. But Rabbi, you’re missing the point – he was going to close me down!”

The secret of persuasion is commitment.

“…and so that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son… that you may know I am Hashem.”

When you want someone else to accept what you tell him or her, you first have to be completely convinced it’s true yourself. Only then will your words be accepted.

In order for our children, or elderly ladies for that matter, to be convinced of what we are saying —“that you may relate in the ears of your son and your son’s son” — we first have to “know I am Hashem.”

  • Ohel Yehoshua and a story heard from Mordechai Weissman

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