Parashat “BO”

The fifteenth reading from the Torah is named Bo (בוא), which means “Come.” The title comes from the first words of the first verse of the reading, which says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘[Come] to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart” (Exodus 10:1). The portion begins by concluding the narrative of the ten plagues, the tenth of which is the slaying of the firstborn. To avoid the plague, the Israelites are given the instructions for the Passover sacrifice and the laws of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Pharaoh finally consents to let Israel go, and they leave Egypt.

This short 7min video connects the weekly reading with today’s events.

Va’era

Oh Boy! Sure feels like exile to me. Exile from what? Is freedom the opposite of exile? This week the first seven Plagues descend on Egypt and Pharaoh. What do these plagues mean? There is a lot in this weekly parashat to consider.

The second reading from the book of Exodus and fourteenth reading from the Torah is named Va’era (וארא), which means “And I appeared.” The title comes from the first words of the second verse of the reading, which says, “And I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty” (Exodus 6:3). The portion begins with four expressions of redemption whereby God promises to bring Israel out of the Egyptian bondage. The narrative progresses to tell the story of the first seven of the ten plagues that God unleashed on Egypt.

Shemot

Shemot (שמות) is both the title for the second book from the scroll of the Torah and the title of the first Torah portion. Shemot means “names.” The English-speaking world calls this book Exodus. The Hebrew title for the book comes from the opening phrase of the book: “Now these are the names (shemot) of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob” (Exodus 1:1).

Exodus means “departure.” The book of Exodus tells the story of the children of Israel enslaved in Egypt and their miraculous redemption through the hand of Moses, the story of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, the construction of the golden calf and the construction of the Tabernacle.

We find the children of Israel in slavery. It seems at first that the God of their forefathers has forgotten them. But God has not forgotten His promises.

Today, our group has its first Sangha session. Have you ever had an experience of having a heavy tongue? Were you afraid to speak up? Were you uncertain, ashamed, fearful?