Wednesday, 20 January 2021
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Parshat Hashavua Bo

By: Rabbi Nissim Mordechai Makor

parshat hashavua bo Rav Nissim Mordechai MakorAt this point, the Torah relates that Hashem commanded Moshe to go to Pharaoh once again, but it does not mention any instructions He gave concerning the next plague, that of locusts. For this we have only Moshe’s later statement to Pharaoh and they said to Pharaoh, “So said Hashem, God of the Hebrews. For if you refuse to send forth My people, behold, tomorrow I shall bring a locust swarm into your border. Only from this verse do we know that Hashem must have commanded Moshe concerning this plague at the same time.

R' Moshe Feinstein reveals to us that we must say that the opening verses of this parsha are intended only to explain why Moshe was told to return to Pharaoh yet another time.  Pharaoh could easily have let the Jews leave without further ado when he said, after the plague of hail [9:27], Hashem is the Righteous One, and I and my people are the wicked ones. Certainly his servants realized this, as they told him in exasperation, do you not know that Egypt is lost!

The first 7 plagues did not suffice to ensure that this display of Hashem’s power would be remember forever, since such things can easily be forgotten over the course of time. For this, 3 additional plagues were necessary, and therefore Moshe had to go to Pharaoh once again.

The Rebbe of Kotzk, explained that each of the plagues had a special effect on Yisrael. Just as the Egyptians were punished with frogs, lice, etc., so did Yisrael receive comparable spiritual gifts. As the Egyptians were lowered, Yisrael were raised in a corresponding manner. This means that as the Egyptians received their last and harshest punishment, the annihilation of their firstborn, Yisrael gained a great and commensurate gift and injection of Kedusha [holiness] into their firstborn. As the first fruit of Egypt, their firstborn, lay in their death throes, the Jewish world received a great measure of permanent sanctity to all aspects of firstness. This means that not only did the firstborn children become sanctified, but also every other manifestation of firstness

This Pesach, the first of all the festivals in the cycle, received a special measure of spirituality. Likewise, Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] and the Beis HaMikdash, the primary spots on earth, gained special sanctity, as did the primary elements of the intellect and emotions in man, which are the first powers of the soul.

This “sanctification of firsts” is actually the theme of the last part of the sidrah which we are trying to analyze. As always, there are three distinct aspects of this firstness in space, in time, and in the soul of mankind which are the primary arenas of human experience. Each of these is discussed by the verses following the introduction of the laws of bechoros: [the first born].

Shabbat candle lighting times for Parshat Bo

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And it shall be, when GOD WILL BRING YOU TO THE LAND, WHICH He swore to you and your forefathers to give to you.

This refers to the Land of Israel. We have already seen above that the verses discuss Pesach, the first festival, whose principal focus is in the Beis HaMikdash, the primary spot in the Land of Israel. These are the expressions of firstness in time and space. Finally, the mitzvah of tefillin represents the dedication of the primary forces of the mind and emotions to GOD AND His rule, which are the expressions of firstness in mankind. The tefillin are placed on the bicep, opposite the heart, “tying” the powers of the emotions to the Torah. The head tefillin is placed slightly above the hairline, between the eyes, to represent the fact that control over the intellect is dependent on control over one’s faculty of sight.

We can see that the end of the sidrah is dealing not specifically with the sanctification of the bechor [first born], but with the entire realm of firsts. Each of these firsts finds its Kedusha [holiness] originating from the destruction of the firstborn of Egypt. We thus find that the verses describe the fact that even firsts outside the person, such as Eretz Yisrael and the Beis HaMikdash are sanctified, as are one’s material possessions. This is expressed by the laws of the firstborn animals and, of course, by the human firstborn.

The rule of the firstborn of the tamei [non-kosher] animal i.e. first born donkey relates to the sanctification of the body. The body and the donkey (representing man’s material possession’s) are the least spiritually inclined aspects of human life. The firstborn of kosher animals, which could be offered in the Beis Hamikdash stem from the holiness of the emotional soul.  It is the soul of an animal which in some way is sacrificed as an atonement as an atonement for the soul of the sinner who brings an offering.

The final, and highest level is the firstborn human child, who is imbued from birth with a special sanctity. This corresponds to the intellect as the first child is a kind of conduit, enabling the father to pass his intellectual powers to his children.

Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim.

The Plague of Darkness

The darkness became matter, a tangible thing [Rashi].

Rabbi Nachman asks the question of Why was there a plague of Darkness? There were wicked Jews who refused to leave Egypt. They died during the Plague of Darkness and were buried at that time [so the Egyptians would not see the Jews suffering]. (Rashi on Exodus 10:22).

There is a body, there is a soul. There is matter, there is form. There is darkness, there is light. There is life. The first of each pair are all one concept, as are the second [Likutey Moharan I, 37:2]. Those who pursue the material the body are actually pursuing matter and darkness. Those who pursue spiritually merit to form and light.

Therefore, the Egyptians, who were steeped in bodily lusts, literally felt the darkness envelope them. And the wicked Jews who did not want to leave the materialistic lifestyle of Egypt died, since matter, body, darkness and death are the same concept. But those Jews who sought spirituality and anticipated the salvation had light in their homes, for spirituality and light are synonymous. In fact, they merited to the light of the Future, which is similar to the light of creation that enveloped the entire world. Rashi, [Bereishes 1:3]

The Jews willingness to leave Egypt quickly, without proper preparation for their journey through the desert, displayed great faith. From whence did they derive that faith? Moreover, the Jews were steeped in the lowest levels of idolatry, without any means of understanding the truth about God. Had they been in possession of the Torah, they would have had the means to learn about God and to have faith in Him. Without Torah, what motivated them to follow God?

This is the miracle of the Exodus that God, knowing the Jews were not quite ready, nevertheless gave them an illumination of faith and truth by which they could accept Him and follow Him into the desert. The same holds true for anyone who seeks God today. When a person displays a willingness to accept God. God will send him an illumination of faith and truth to help him begin his spiritual journey.

Pearls of life

Personal prayer or hitbodedut is a topic the Pearls of Life would like to portray as a couple in a lovers bedroom where one’s words must be filled with passion, spoken lovingly. The major objective in the Bedroom of hitbodedut is to relingquish one’s grip on their ego. One must ask “are my actions of the type that my Beloved wants me to do?” In the Bedroom of hitdodedut one will realize that God’s love for you is unconditional, no matter what you have done. He is only waiting for you to make up with Him, and He’s been trying to get you to give your love back to Him and to Him only. The Pearls of Life emphasize that your Love for God will be unconditional no matter how He treats you, you won’t leave Him. When one is ready to leave the safety of their ego and its illusive pleasures, hitbodedut, your personal prayers to Hashem will offer you protection and security at a higher level. Hitbodedut will offer refuge in the Shekhinah. Come inside and let Her give you shelter from the storms of life. Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim
[1/15, 19:33] HaRav Fishel Todd: The Pearls of life teach us that Hitbodedut is the idea of talking to Hashem in your language and your own words is a key teaching of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a chassidic master of the early nineteenth century. Rebbe Nachman calls this practice "hitbodedut" unstructured, spontaneous, individualized prayer and recommends it as the highest path to self-awareness and God-consciousness. Reb Noson his main student, tells of how Rebbe Nachman put his arm around my shoulder and said "It's true very good to pour out your heart to God as you would to a true, good friend." in the Refuge/recovery room, you can use hitbodedut to improve your relationship with God.  in the conference room , you can use hitbodedut to think about and plan for the future. In the Bedroom, you can experience the delight of loving Hashem for no reason. The least known room is the NoPlace a silent form of Hitbodedut.  As you explore each of these rooms, you will find yourself changing and growing in ways you never thought possible. This is the power of hitbodedut, that one hour a day of talking to Hashem: It makes you more human and the world and Africa more humane. 
Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim