It is Bo or Boh.

Anyway, here’s my 4 minute synopsis:

God tells Moses (and Aaron) to go to Pharaoh and let his people go so they can worship him. He also indicates that he’s going to make such a mockery of Pharaoh, that future generations will be telling the story. Moses goes to Pharaoh and expresses God’s wishes. Pharaoh says no and Egypt is punished by a locust attack the likes of which had never been seen before or since. Pharaoh begs forgiveness and God stops the attack and kills the locusts by dumping them in the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds?).

Of course, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened again and he refuses to release the Israelites. God instructs Moses to bring on the darkness. For 3 days, it is pitch black among the Egyptians, although the Israelites continue to enjoy light. Pharaoh finally agrees to give in and release the Israelites…as long as they don’t take their cattle and other flocks. Moses rejects this proposal, saying the flocks and cattle are coming. He states that he has no idea how long and what provisions the Israelites will need to worship God, so he has no choice but to take their livestock. Pharaoh rejects this and forces Moses to leave him, threating him with death should he ever see his face again.

We then have a weird section that gets the Documentary Hypothesis some brownie points because the story seems to be repeating but from another viewpoint. First God tells Moses that he will slay the firstborn of the Egyptians next and Pharaoh will drive the Israelites out. The Israelites should borrow silver and other valuable objects from their (presumably Egyptian) neighbors. It seems that Moses then does see Pharaoh again, but Pharaoh doesn’t kill him, merely refuses to evict the Israelites. So God instructs Moses to tell the Israelites to find a lamb, slaughter it and use the blood to mark their doorways. He then proceeds to outline how the Israelites should be ready to leave Egypt on a moment’s notice after having a festive meal of the roasted lamb. He gives instructions about eating uleavened bread for seven days and tells Moses much of what will become Passover for generations of Jews.

Moses does as he is told and gathers the elders of Israel to inform them of God’s commands.

So then God does it. He kills the firstborn of the Egyptians. Pharaoh reacts by kicking the Israelites out that very night and they leave without having had time to allow their bread to rise. They leave, 600,000 strong, with all of their belongings and livestock, as well as valuables borrowed from the Egyptians. They are leaving following 430 years of living in Egypt. They escape their slavery and God instructs Moses how to celebrate this great night and who may be a part of the celebration. The men have to be circumcised to participate, but non-Jews may also join in if they make a sacrifice to God.

The parsha concludes with God instructing Moses how to celebrate and commemorate this day to God. For example, the firstborn of the Israelites, human and animal, must be sanctified to God – which is why it is still customary to redeem the firstborn. Passover must be celebrated in certain ways and God gives Moses some more specifics. Twice in this concluding chapter we get the infamous “And it shall be to you as a sign upon your hand and as a remembrance between your eyes, in order that the law of the Lord shall be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand the Lord took you out of Egypt.”

Ladies and gentlemen, Parshat Bo has given us the Passover story. Yum!

Chabad gives us English translation with Rashi.

Chabad also gives us the five minute parsha synopsys.

Fine commentaries from Bar Ilan University in Israel in including “Advances in Genetic Engineering —
New Halakhic Challenges.”

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  • You know, I just scrolled down the blog to the last parsha from last week. It’s been an interesting week on Jewlicious. Thanks all and shabbat shalom.