This week, Parshat Bo, candle lighting, which is 18 minutes before sunset will be at 4:23 PM in Brooklyn, New York. Chabad.org has a section of their web site on which you can look up the candle lighting time in your locality. It also lists the time on Saturday night after nightfall when Shabbat ends. In addition to articles on the weekly Torah portion, there is a variety of articles on topics  of interest that can be printed out for reading on Shabbat. Aish.com also has a lot of worthwhile articles as well on a wide assortment of topics.

This week, Chabad.org has a story “When Life Hands Us Lemons“ that deals with the question of dealing with misfortune.Far from passive resignation, it is possible to derive knowledge and strength from circumstances that one would not have chosen.

In Aish.com, Rabbi Benjamin Blech tells the story of Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel. the Pope at that time wanted the Sistine Chapel to reflect the centrality of Jesus that is at the core of Christianity. Michelangelo had other ideas, and openly defied the Pope, by going back to year 1 of the Jewish calendar, rather than the Christian one.

This week’s parsha deals with the last three plagues and the departure from Egypt, a defining event in the birth of the Jewish people. Being freed from Egyptian slavery was ultimately only a preparation for dealing with our inner limitations and need for perfection. The greatest struggles in the lives of individuals, and of societies has always been the inner struggle even more than the battles with external oppression. The Arab Spring, the overthrow of Baby Doc, Haiti’s former dictator in 1986, as well as the Russian and French revolutions, show that the biggest challenge to a people comes after they have celebrated victory.  It is worth noting that the 1917 Russian Revolution marked the start of a 70 year attempt to remake human society in the image of communist ideology, a task that proved too daunting. Yet again, the revolution that overthrew communism  has shown us that changing the individual is a lot harder than overthrowing a regime.

In this parsha, the commandments of  consecrating the first-born, of removing leaven from one’s home prior to Passover, eating Matzoh on Passover, telling one’ children the story of the Exodus and putting on tefillin on the head and on the arm are all a part of this week’s Torah portion.

The miracles that were performed by G-d as a part of the Exodus were not simply a spectacular show. Each miracle contained within it lessons that give us insight into ourselves and into the world. It is to deepen our understanding of these miracles that we recount them at the seder every year.

What is most telling about the attitudes inculcated through Jewish teachings is that our celebration of the Exodus does not involve rejoicing in the destruction of our enemies. Indeed, when we mention each of the plagues, we spill a drop or wine out of the cup, indicating that our joy is diminished when it becomes necessary to shed blood. It is considered to be profoundly sad when a human being, with all of their amazing potential, descends into such a level of criminality that they must be killed for the protection of society.

May it be G-d’s will that the ultimate redemption and the rebuilding of the Third Temple commence speedily in our time.


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