There is a commandment given to Israel that once every 7 years, during the Festival of Sukkot, they should assemble ALL the people to hear the Torah read to them. (Deuteronomy 31:10-12). Chazal (a Hebrew acronym that means, “our sages of blessed memory”) instituted a continuous cycle of reading the Torah. They defined weekly sections so that Jews would be reading and hearing Torah every single week and complete the 5 Books of Moses in a set time. The teachers I learned under taught me to follow the yearly Torah cycle and I discovered that Chabad divides their Torah study into daily aliyot. When the Torah portion is read in its entirety on Shabbat in the synagogue, there are seven sections, seven aliyot. The Chabad tradition is to study one aliyah each day, starting Sunday and going through to Shabbat. One who does this can get a double dose of the same Torah Portion each week.
Additionally, the Ashkenazic and Sepharidc, that is Eastern European and Spanish or Iberian Peninsula communities sometime differ on how they divide the Torah Portions.
It’s time to explore Torah Portion Bo, aliyah by aliyah.
Bo Exodus 10:1-13:16
Aliyah 1 – Exodus 10:1-11
Exodus 10:1 CJB
HaShem said to Moshe, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have made him and his servants hardhearted, so that I can demonstrate these signs of mine among them,
Challenge and hardship are opportunities to show strength and character.
Exodus 10:2 CJB
so that you can tell your son and grandson about what I did to Egypt and about my signs that I demonstrated among them, and so that you will all know that I am HaShem.”
The intention has always been for the relationship between Man and our Maker to be one of legacy. It is imperative that the knowledge of G-d is passed down father to son, generation to generation and that ethos is built into the Biblical narrative itself.
Exodus 10:3 CJB
Moshe and Aharon went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Here is what HaShem, G-d of the Hebrews, says: ‘How much longer will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so that they can worship me.
HaShem is the Creator and Lord of the entire universe, but He has bound Himself to a people and a Nation. No one can change that. No one.
Exodus 10:4 CJB
Otherwise, if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory.
Pharaoh was worried that the growing population of Israelites would unite as an army against Egypt when another Nation came to attack. Now HaShem has sent an swarming army attached to no Nation to wreak havoc on Egypt for how he treated His people.
Exodus 10:5 CJB
One won’t be able to see the ground, so completely will the locusts cover it. They will eat anything you still have that escaped the hail, including every tree you have growing in the field.
I didn’t realize that any vegetation had escaped being destroyed by the hail. It is interesting that this detail is revealed here. After pausing to reflect on it, I can see that had Pharaoh yielded at this point there would need to be a provision for Egypt to survive and recover from the plagues while Israel left them. That has me wondering if they had to import many goods and staples during the time they were afflicted by the plagues. I suppose it would have been vital to the survival of the people of Egypt. There is an unseen economic side to the chastening of Egypt and I am sure the people who had been taxed to build up the wealth of Egypt were less than thrilled with Pharoah as he brought on trouble after trouble and the Nation was bled dry of money on top of everything else.
Exodus 10:6 CJB
They will fill your houses and those of your servants and of all the Egyptians. It will be like nothing your fathers or their fathers have ever seen since the day they were born until today.’” Then he turned his back and left.
What is the object of the plague of locusts being so outstanding? I assume there had been swarms of locusts prior to the plagues and HaShem wanted to make it so remarkable that all Egypt would know that it was from Him.
Exodus 10:7 CJB
Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How much longer must this fellow be a snare for us? Let the people go and worship HaShem their G-d. Don’t you understand yet that Egypt is being destroyed?”
It is good to surround yourself with wise and intelligent people. They can steer you way from disaster.
Exodus 10:8 CJB
So Moshe and Aharon were brought to Pharaoh again, and he said to them, “Go, worship HaShem your G-d. But who exactly is going?”
This may be the first time this Pharaoh has openly admitted that HaShem is G-d
Exodus 10:9 CJB
Moshe answered, “We will go with our young and our old, our sons and our daughters; and we will go with our flocks and herds; for we must celebrate a feast to HaShem.”
Again, the family, not just the individual is central to HaShem’s plan and intention. Why did the children need to go? How are they involved with making offerings? Wouldn’t they just get in the way? There is no nursery or cry room to send them to out in the desert. That isn’t what HaShem wants. He wants the children to see the fathers worshipping and serving something greater than themselves, to lead by example, so that they should know how to live.
Exodus 10:10 CJB
Pharaoh said to them, “HaShem certainly will be with you if I ever let you go with your children! It’s clear that you are up to no good.
Pharaoh sees it, if you separate the parents from the children, the family unit is broken and it can not be what it is intended to be. The family is a vessel, it can only function properly when it is whole.
Exodus 10:11 CJB
Nothing doing! Just the men among you may go and worship HaShem. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” And they were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.
Pharaoh insists the men alone go to serve HaShem. It is important to look at what the enemy wants, to know what it desires, so we can resist it.
Aliyah 2 – Exodus 10:12-23
Exodus 10:19 CJB
HaShem reversed the wind and made it blow very strongly from the west. It took up the locusts and drove them into the Sea of Suf; not one locust remained on Egyptian soil.
I wonder if the drowning of the locusts in the Sea of Suf is a foreshadowing of the Egyptian army being drowned later.
Aliyah 3 – Exodus 10:24-11:3
Exodus 11:2 CJB
Now tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman her neighbor for gold and silver jewelry.”
Is this payment for the years of slavery or is it in preparation for the construction of the Tabernacle? Both works, especially because it make sense for the children of Israel to voluntarily give the offerings for the Mishkan from the money and wealth they had earned themselves. Like how David made sure to purchase the threshing floor where the Temple was to be built, even though it was offered to him.
Aliyah 4 – Exodus 11:4-12:20
Exodus 11:9 CJB
HaShem said to Moshe, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that still more of my wonders will be shown in the land of Egypt.”
Why did HaSem harden Pharaoh’s heart? This is why. He had to prop him up in order to display as much of His might as possible at the time. Take note, HaShem did not change Pharaoh’s heart or put the darkness into it, he simply hardened it so that Pharaoh could stand to be as obstinate as he initially was. If HaShem hadn’t done this, as we have seen throughout this parshah, Pharaoh would have buckled under the pressure and let Israel go earlier.
Aliyah 5 – Exodus 12:21-28
Exodus 12:24-27 CJB
24 You are to observe this as a law, you and your descendants forever.
25 “When you come to the land which HaShem will give you, as he has promised, you are to observe this ceremony. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this ceremony?’ 27 say, ‘It is the sacrifice of HaShem’s Pesach [Passover], because [HaShem] passed over the houses of the people of Isra’el in Egypt, when he killed the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” The people of Isra’el bowed their heads and worshipped.
Yes. There is a culture and a custom and a way one can follow to ensure that their ways and beliefs are passed on from generation to generation. HaShem ordered the people of Israel to do this and told them how. All people who love G-d should strive to make remembering HaShem a part of their lives and make it a tradition to be passed down from generation to generation.
Aliyah 6 – Exodus 12:29-51
Exodus 12:40 CJB
The time the people of Isra’el lived in Egypt was 430 years.
Is that so? No. No it isn’t. That is what this verse literally says, but if you do the math it doesn’t add up. How can this be? Is the Bible wrong? Is it all fake? Did Ezra and Nehemiah mess up when they were forging these documents to make themselves lords and princes of a people made out of whole cloth? I reject that. Frauds and cheats would have been much more thorough than that.
This question was asked and answered on Chabad.org. Follow the link for more information. I would consider that to be the real answer to the question.
I have another angle on this. I think this mistake is here to call attention to the reader of the Torah that they can not and must not read the Bible while divorcing it from its context. The Torah is a book that was given to a particular people, at a particular time, in a particular place. We must remember that and do our best to understand that. At minimum we should start by looking to the Jewish people who have been wrestling with the Torah and the Bible for about 3500 years.
Aliyah 7 – Exodus 13:1-16
Exodus 13:2 CJB
“Set aside for me all the firstborn. Whatever is first from the womb among the people of Isra’el, both of humans and of animals, belongs to me.”
What do you think it means that all the firstborn of the people would belong to HaShem? The animals were to be offered as sacrifices, killed and burnt. That isn’t done with people, so what does it mean? What is the significance of the Firstborn
That concludes my journey through Bo for the year 5782.
I hope these words have been a blessing to you.
May our Heavenly Father give you peace and joy.
This is Matthew and I am Walking In Liberty.