From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bo
Bo (בֹּא — Hebrew for “Go [to Pharaoh]”) – Exodus 10:1-13:16
Then the Eternal One said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh. For I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his courtiers, in order that I may display these My signs among them.” – Exodus 10:1
- God sends the plagues of locusts and darkness upon Egypt and forewarns Moses about the final plague, the death of every Egyptian firstborn. Pharaoh still does not let the Israelites leave Egypt. (10:1-11:10)
- God commands Moses and Aaron regarding the Passover festival. (12:1-27)
- God enacts the final plague, striking down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt except those of the House of Israel. Pharaoh now allows the Israelites to leave. (12:29-42)
- Speaking to Moses and Aaron, God repeats the commandments about Passover. (12:43-13:16)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_(parsha)
Connection to the Parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah describe God’s judgment against Egypt. The parashah reports that God told Moses to go (bo) to Pharaoh; the haftarah reports God’s word that Nebuchadnezzar would come (la-vo) to Pharaoh. Both the parashah and the haftarah report a plague of locusts — literal in the parashah, figurative in the haftarah. Both the parashah and the haftarah report God’s punishment of Egypt’s gods. And both the parashah and the haftarah report God’s ultimate deliverance of the Israelites from their captivity.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bo_(parsha)
Bo (בֹּא — in Hebrew, the command form of “go,” or “come”) – Exodus 10:1-13:16
In Modern Interpretation
The late-19th-century German biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen conceived of early Israelite religion as linked to nature’s annual cycle and believed that Scripture only later connected the festivals to historical events like the Exodus from Egypt. Professor James Kugel of Bar Ilan University reported that modern scholars generally agreed that Passover reflects two originally separate holidays arising out of the annual harvest cycle. One Festival involved the sacrificing and eating of an animal from the flock, the pesa sacrifice, which arose among shepherds who sacrificed in the light of the full moon of the month that marked the vernal equinox and the end of winter (as directed in Exodus 12:6) to bring Divine favor for a safe and prosperous summer for the rest of the flock. The shepherds slaughtered the animal at home, as the rite also stipulated that some of the animal’s blood be daubed on the doorposts and lintel of the house (as directed in Exodus 12:7) to ward off evil. The rite prescribed that no bone be broken (as directed in Exodus 12:46) so as not to bring evil on the flock from which the sacrifice came. Scholars suggest that the name pesa derived from the verb that means “hop” (as in 1 Kings 18:21 and 26), and theorize that the holiday may originally have involved some sort of ritual “hopping.” A second Festival — the Festival of Unleavened Bread — involved farmers eating unleavened barley bread for seven days when the winter’s barley crop had reached maturity and was ready for harvest. Farmers observed this Festival with a trip to a local sanctuary (as in Exodus 23:17 and 34:23). Modern scholars believe that the absence of yeast in the bread indicated purity (as in Leviticus 2:11). The listing of Festivals in Exodus 23:14–17 and 34:18–23 appear to provide evidence for the independent existence of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. Modern scholars suggest that the farmers’ Festival of Unleavened Bread and the shepherds’ Passover later merged into a single festival, Passover moved from the home to the Temple, and the combined festival was explicitly connected to the Exodus (as in Deuteronomy 16:1–4).
From Women of Reform Judaism.org
D’VAR TORAH BY: RABBI STEPHANIE BERNSTEIN
Parashat Bo contains the last three of the ten divine acts designed to persuade a reluctant Pharaoh to release his Israelite slaves. Although these acts are most often referred to as “plagues,” the biblical text more commonly uses the words “signs” (otot), “marvels” (mof’tim), and “wonders” (nifla’ot) to describe these heavenly exhibitions of power. Pharaoh’s defiance of God’s command to let the people go brings terrible consequences for the Egyptian people. The preceding parashah (Va-eira) describes the first seven of these divine displays: the Nile turns to blood, frogs swarm over Egypt, dust turns to lice, swarms of insects invade the land, pestilence attacks Egypt’s animals, boils cover animals and humans, and hail destroys Egyptian livestock and fields. In this parashah, God displays the final signs: locusts, darkness, and the slaying of the firstborn. As their exodus from Egypt becomes imminent, the Israelites receive instructions for the Passover sacrifice and the Feast of Matzot, rituals preserving the memory of God’s redemption for the Israelites as well as for their descendants.
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/bo
A Sign on Your Hand, A Reminder Between Your Eyes: An Embodied Jewish Theology of Solidarity and Liberation
From the D’var Torah By: Rabbi Hilly Haber
In Parshat Bo, we are taught to retell and to embody the story of the Exodus. These commandments offer pathways to building Jewish theologies and communities which aspire toward liberation and solidarity, communities which hold up sacred text together with lived experience, which see in Jewish stories and histories deep wells of empathy and understanding with which to march in solidarity with all people on the path out of Egypt.
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
בא Bo – Exodus 10:1-13:16
From Power, Plagues, Passover by Sharon R. Keller, p.355-6
Parashat Bo (“go”) features three final signs from God (locusts, darkness and the slaying of the first born), following directly after the first seven signs in the previous parashah…. An overriding theme in this Torah portion is God’s omnipotence. The signs are meant to prove to Pharaoh, all Egypt, and the burgeoning people of Israel that Israel’s God reigns supreme….
The theme of remembrance also recurs throughout this parashah. Several passages emphasize the importance of teaching future generations about how God saved the Israelites (10:2; 12:26-27; 13:14-15). Also, a number of apparently existing rites–including the Festival of Matzot (12:14; 13:3), t’fillin (13:9, 16), and the redemption of the first-born (13:14-15)–are linked to the Exodus to institutionalize its memory.
Many readers of this parashah wonder about the historicity of the Exodus story. It is important to remember that these events are not recounted as verifiable history. Rather, the narrative describes a people’s collective memory of their past. As such, the historical accuracy of the account is unimportant, for it has no bearing on the story’s core message or themes….
We find a few scattered references to women throughout this parashah…. The image of [the slave girl (11:5)] grinding grain into flour reflects the role women played in the complex production of bread (see at 11:5 and 12:8)…. Textual and archeological evidence suggests that women would have baked the unleavened cakes of dough that are part of the story of the Israelites’ fleeing from Egypt. As an integral part of each Israelite “family” and “household” (12:3), women experience the long-awaited Exodus, the unprecedented redemptive act that becomes the foundation for the relationship between God and Israel.
Another View by Naomi Steinberg, p.372
Parashat Bo describes a number of rituals surrounding the Exodus that allow us to see a connection between blood, sacrifice, and family ties. Sacrificial blood in 12:1-13 is protective, separating the Egyptians who are about to die from the Israelites who soon will hurriedly flee the “house of bondage.” As an expression of the life force, the blood is also symbolic of the fertility of the family that offers it as a sacrifice and then applies it to the doorposts and the lintel of their house.
In addition, the blood symbolizes the connection between past and living generations. The living and the deceased should not be seen as mutually exclusive, but instead can be considered as part of a chain of human existence connecting ancestors and their descendants. Thus for readers of the story, the passover sacrifice acts as a link to generations past, a way to recognize the plight of those who first left Egypt and to offer gratitude to God for their liberation. The passover sacrifice also connects the past to the future, as one generation teaches the next the lessons of the Exodus: “And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite?’ you shall say, ‘It is the passover sacrifice to יהוה, who passed over the houses of the Israelites….’” (12:26-27).
Furthermore, the consumption of the communal Passover meal provides a map of the social structure of the family network. Eating the roasted lamb (or kid) with unleavened bread and bitter herbs determines the boundaries of the people who share in the event, indicating who is inside and outside the group. With all family groups eating their paschal lamb on the same evening (vv.6-8), the act of eating becomes symbolic of continuity and unity. However, the separate groups consume their own sacrifices, “a lamb to a household” (12:3), with no foreigners allowed to eat of it (12:43-45). Thus, the rite also symbolizes discontinuity and differentiation. In these various ways, the Passover sacrificial ritual is about identity and how we solidify family ties through this ancient ritual.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 6 Shevat through 12 Shevat, we lovingly remember:
Survivor of Mengele’s twin experiments, relative of Ruben Gomez
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, January 7, 2022. At the end of the Service, we will commemorate and discuss the events and impact of January 6 last year. Please join us.
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this Friday evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Bo (triennial part) Ex 12:29-13:16
Time: Jan 7, 2022 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jan 7, 2022 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!