Family Corner: Parshat Bo

Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Posted by: Family Corner

Family Corner is a space to offer interactive and thoughtful ideas for family engagement with the Parshat Hashavua (weekly Torah reading).  

This week in the Parsha we encounter themes of plagues, keeping promises, darkness, Rosh Chodesh, time, Passover and Tefillin. 

Parsha Summary

  • God sends the plagues of locusts and darkness upon Egypt and forewarns Moses about the final plague, the death of every Egyptian firstborn. Pharaoh still does not let the Israelites leave Egypt. (10:1-11:10) 
  • God commands Moses and Aaron regarding the Passover festival. (12:1-27) 
  • God enacts the final plague, striking down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt except those of the House of Israel. Pharaoh now allows the Israelites to leave. (12:29-42) 
  • Speaking to Moses and Aaron, God repeats the commandments about Passover. (12:43-13:16) 

Torah Thought  

וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֗ה ע֣וֹד נֶ֤גַע אֶחָד֙ אָבִ֤יא עַל־פַּרְעֹה֙ וְעַל־מִצְרַ֔יִם אַֽחֲרֵי־כֵ֕ן יְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּ֑ה כְּשַׁ֨לְּח֔וֹ כָּלָ֕ה גָּרֵ֛שׁ יְגָרֵ֥שׁ אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִזֶּֽה׃  

And the LORD said to Moses, “I will bring but one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; after that he shall let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you out of here one and all.  

דַּבֶּר־נָ֖א בְּאזְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וְיִשְׁאֲל֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ ׀ מֵאֵ֣ת רֵעֵ֗הוּ וְאִשָּׁה֙ מֵאֵ֣ת רְעוּתָ֔הּ כְּלֵי־כֶ֖סֶף וּכְלֵ֥י זָהָֽב׃  

Tell the people to borrow, each man from his neighbor and each woman from hers, objects of silver and gold.”  

וַיִּתֵּ֧ן יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־חֵ֥ן הָעָ֖ם בְּעֵינֵ֣י מִצְרָ֑יִם גַּ֣ם ׀ הָאִ֣ישׁ מֹשֶׁ֗ה גָּד֤וֹל מְאֹד֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בְּעֵינֵ֥י עַבְדֵֽי־פַרְעֹ֖ה וּבְעֵינֵ֥י הָעָֽם׃ {ס}          

The LORD disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people. Moreover, Moses himself was much esteemed in the land of Egypt, among Pharaoh’s courtiers and among the people. 

This small interruption pauses God’s forecast of the plague of the firstborn.  There is no immediate reason given for the need to “borrow” precious items for their Egyptian neighbors.  

Some have suggested that it was necessary so that the Israelites would have material for the constructions o the Mishkan (Tabernacle). 

Rashi, following the Talmud (Berachot 9a-b) teaches that this step was taken in order for avoid the perception that God does not keep His word. After all, the prophecy of bondage shared with Abraham (Gen.15:13) was fulfilled, now God had to keep the second half of that prophecy, that the Israelites “shall go forth with great substance.” (Gen. 15:14) 

The importance of keeping our words emerges from this approach.  

On the other hand, consider this verse (Eccles 5:4) -  ט֖וֹב אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־תִדֹּ֑ר מִשֶּׁתִּדּ֖וֹר וְלֹ֥א תְשַׁלֵּֽם.  - It is better not to vow at all than to vow and not fulfill. 

Conversation Starters: 

  • Why is it important to keep our word? 
  • Why do you think the Rabbis use this particular example to teach the importance of keeping promises. 
  • Do you think it is a good idea to make promises? Consider this verse (Eccles 5:4) -  ט֖וֹב אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־תִדֹּ֑ר מִשֶּׁתִּדּ֖וֹר וְלֹ֥א תְשַׁלֵּֽם.  - It is better not to vow at all than to vow and not fulfill. According to Rabbi Meir in the Talmud (Hil. 2a) the best course of action is not to vow at all. Why do you think that is? 

Activities, Videos, Crafts and More! 

This week’s Torah portion does discuss the death of the firstborn, which may lead into a greater discussion with your child about death.  This can be a very challenging topic to discuss with your children and our friends at BimBam have a wonderful video for you to watch that can help you start the discussion. 

How to Talk to Your Kids About Death 

PJ Library Recommendation  

Let My People Go! by Tilda Balsley
6 to 7 Years, 7 to 8 Years
Synopsis: The text of this book, which describes the ten plagues leading up to the freedom of the Israelites from Egypt, could easily be adapted as the script to a holiday play through the color-coded text.

Devash (Published by Hadar): Devash is a weekly parashah magazine that makes learning Torah sweet. By engaging directly with texts and taking kids seriously as Jews, Devash helps children and grownups discover new ideas, values, and sweet morsels in the weekly Torah portion. Devash is designed for kids aged 7-11 to read independently, or together with families and teachers. 

Israel Corner 

This week 164 years ago (January 7,1858) Eliezer Ben Yehuda was born.  
Eliezer Ben Yehuda was a Hebrew lexicographer and newspaper editor. He was the driving force behind the revival of the Hebrew language in the modern era. 


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Category: Family Corner