Parshat Hashavua

Parshah Bo: Coming Together as a People

Shabbat Shalom! In this week’s parshah we cover the final three plagues, the hardening of pharaoh’s heart, and the release of the Israelites from their Egyptian servitude. We retell these stories each year during the Passover seder, why? The Torah gives us the answer. In this week’s parshah we understand that this is the origin story of the nation of Israel. This week’s Parshah includes the verse, Exodus 13:14, “And it will come to pass if your son asks you in the future, saying, “What is this?” you shall say to him, “With a mighty hand did the Lord take us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage…””. In addition to ensuring our children hear this message, our children also inherit a physical reminder of this verse. Before the bar or bat mitzvah, it is customary to gift our children with totafot (frontlets between the eyes). According to the Rabbis, these totafot are tefillin. Parshah Bo ends with explaining the reason for these totafot in Exodus 13:16, “And it shall be for you a sign upon your hand and for ornaments between your eyes, for with a mighty hand did the Lord take us out of Egypt.” The Rabbis believe that when we place the tefillin on our bodies we will be reminded of the miracles that occurred in Egypt and thus reminded of the beginning of the Jewish people. I know that when I wrap my tefillin I feel a connection with the past and the future. The past in my memory of seeing my Gampa (Shira’s paternal grandfather) wrap tefillin when we would visit and my future in my intention of teaching my daughter Rayna Esther and hopefully other children we are blessed with about tefillin and having it be part of their memory of me. I also look forward to providing lessons on tefillin and other important ritual Judaica at Shalom Home as well as engaging in discussions about the notion of the Jewish people and what that means in our lives.

Shabbat Shalom!