Torah Weekly

For the week ending 28 January 2012 / 3 Shevat 5772

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.


I’m Being Watched!

“And G-d said to Moshe, ‘Come to Pharaoh…’ ” (10:1)

Have you ever had the feeling that you are being watched? Have you ever felt that your every move is being scrutinized?

I’m not just asking those of you who have the misfortune to live in a police state. (Mind you, if you live in a police state, I doubt that the authorities are sufficiently magnanimous to allow you online access.) No. I’m addressing this to all of us whose most intimate contact with Big Brother was in a novel by George Orwell.

Have you ever felt that you are being watched? Do you feel that, as you are reading these words, right now, you are being investigated?

If the answer to these questions is no, then you’re in trouble.

Before you write to the editor of this august publication and suggest that he send the present writer on an extended South Sea cruise (chance would be a fine thing!), or call for those nice smiling men in their white coats — let me explain what I mean.

The phrase “the fear of Heaven” to our Anglo-Saxon ears sounds extremely archaic. It sounds like something out of the mouth of a street-corner gospel preacher, ranting his heart out to indifferent passers-by. We may be frightened by many things: that the dollar may go up; that the that the dollar may go down; that thieves may break into our homes; that we may contract some terrible malady. We may even be frightened that the supermarket will have sold out of our favorite dog food, but ‘the fear of Heaven’ is something very far from our hearts.

But, quite simply, the fear of Heaven means the feeling that you are being watched.

Try this experiment. Think for one moment that G-d is watching you. That’s right. Right now. G-d is watching your every move. In great detail. Think that G-d is right here, right now. Now, with that in mind, change the way you’re sitting or standing. Just a little.

What you just did was to show the fear of Heaven.

“And G-d said to Moshe, ‘Come to Pharaoh…’ ”

Notice that the Torah doesn’t say, “Go to Pharaoh”. Rather, it says, “Come to Pharaoh.” Why?

There’s no such thing as “going” from G-d. G-d fills the world. There is nowhere where He is not. No place can exist if He is not there. You can’t “go” from G-d. Therefore the expression “Come to Pharaoh” is more apt because it also means, “Come – and I will go with you.”

  • Source: The Kotzker Rebbe

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