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Bo (Come) Sh’mot (Exodus) 10-13

Torah Portion Bo (Come) Sh’mot (Exodus) 10-13

Haftorah Reading Jeremiah 46:13-28

Tonight we read of the end of the plagues and also the instructions for Pesach (Passover) with special emphasis on the process of getting a male lamb without blemish, killing it, putting the blood on the door post of each home and eating it.

First however, I want to make a comment on the first word of the Torah portion.  We talked about this some time ago but the lessons we can learn from this word are worth repeating. Most translations use the word, “Go,” to translate this word. However, the most common English translation for “Bo” would be Come. What difference does this make? Two differences that I see are, When G-d speaks to Moshe and says, “Come into Pharaoh, “ He is telling him He is already there and Moshe would not be alone and had nothing to fear. This is important for each of us to remember when we are going through struggles. Never forget that G-d is there with us. We are not alone.

This word, “come” can also be understood as come into Pharaoh. Understand him deeply, not just as an adversary but also grasp what makes him tick. Get into his mind and then Moshe would better understand how to lead these people out of their slavery to Pharaoh’s mind that had controlled their every move for so long. To not take the time to understand why, will limit our ability to be free of what enslaves us. Only by fully understanding what holds us captive can we truly be free from it.

False gods in our lives must be exposed for what they are. Let me throw out a question. What do you see that might qualify as a false god in our society? What do you see as a false god in your own life? How do we become false god slayers? How do we become truly free from false gods?

Let’s start with what does not work. If we look back over history there have been many revolutions over throwing oppressive harsh ruling systems, be it a person or a national ruling party. Think about the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, or the French revolution. In these and other situations the outcome was worse than the problem it sought to remedy. The results were more tyrannical than what was thrown out. However, here in our story G-d did the throwing out. He also gave commandments on how to treat people, even those who were overthrown. They were to be compassionate and civil to those who were weaker. They were to threat the vanquished with mercy. Why? They were to see their victory over slavery not as their own power but rather G-d’s victory. They were to understand that the gods of Egypt were nothing, powerless in the face of the one true G-d. When we read the verses about the process of taking, keeping and eating the Pesach offering we see this play out.

In chapter 12:3-11 we read G-d’s instructions for taking a lamb. First, on the 10th of the month they were to select the perfect lamb (verses 3-5), then they kept it alive with them until the 14th of the month of Aviv (verse 6). After that they killed it, took its blood and put it on the door posts of their houses in full sight of their neighbors. In verses 8-11 they were told to eat the lamb. They were to eat it with their sandals on, belt around their waist, and staff in their hands.

At least one of the points of this process was the slaying of a false god. Remember, a sheep was one of the gods of Egypt so G-d was telling them to slay this idol.  This process was a visual for those who worshipped this false god. We would expect that some of the Israelites might have become involved in idol worship over their 400 years of living in Egypt. Sometimes we become involved with things that could be looked at as idols in our own lives. So here in our verses G-d is giving them and us an object lesson. There is none other than Him. He is our Defender, Deliverer, our G-d.  This story of the beginning of freedom for these people should speak to us when something or someone else begins to be more important in our lives than G-d. If we find ourselves there these verses should remind us that we can be false god slayers. Nothing must come between us and Him.