Drash Cards for Bo (5776)
by Marc Mangel
- I was going to follow up Jay’s drash of last week in which he reminded us that Moshe is told to repeat all of God’s words to Pharaoh and discuss why this parsha is not called “Bo L’cha”.
- But then something else jumped out at me, so I will save that discussion for either parsha Shalch, Noach, or Lech L’cha
- We began this week with Rosh Chodesh. In the Amidah we say the Ya’aleah Veyavo.
- That special prayer has 71 words for Rosh Chodesh. Of them, 7 = almost 10% are some version of ‘remember’. Makes sense, since Jewish spirituality flows from memory.
- Today we read (Ch 13, v 9) about Tefillin “They shall be a sign for you on your arm and a reminder [remembering] so that the Torah of God will be on your lips, for with a might hand God brought you out of Egypt”
- Nechama dedicates 16 pages to the lexical and syntactical structure of these verses. I do not have time now to discuss that topic – but am happy to share the pages with anyone who wants to see them
- But then we read (Ch 13, v 16) that tefillin “shall be as a sign on your arm and as a reminder [remembering] between your eyes that God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand’
- From these verses, we have the obligation of putting Tefillin on every day – and the sachrit service was created around that obligation. But why the obligation?
- Rashi says that it is implicit in the verse that the tefillin are to serve NOT as a sign for others, but as a sign for the wearer — each individual should learn the message of tefillin that we must improve ourselves through the teshuvah we set for ourselves during the High Holiday season.
- More importantly: if the sign of the tefillin is not heeded by the one who wears them, then that person will not have an effect on others.
- Ha’Amek Dvar says about these verses that the annual observance of Passover and telling the story to the children is not sufficient for us — we must be provided with a daily remembrance of what happened.
- Rav Kook – first Chief Rabbi of Israel — said that although at the seder we act as if it is us being redeemed from Egypt, that departure is not to be understood as a single historic incident that took place once, but a task confronting every individual in every generation to allow the holy to triumph over the profane ‘enabling the light of God’s holy nature to penetrate everywhere’, and we need that daily affirmation.
• What if you cannot put on tefillin?. At sunrise – or whenever you rise – take a moment to say the Shma and remember what happened in Egypt — not as a historical event but as something current — and that our job is to make a dwelling place for God in this world.