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Bo Summaries

Bo 5780-2020

“Rational Love and Emotional Love: A Lesson from Tefillin”
(revised and updated from Bo 5760-2000)

From the ritual of Tefillin we learn that there is both “rational love” and “emotional love,” a love of the mind and a love of the heart. While both these loves are important, in Judaism, emotional love trumps rational love.

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Bo 5779-2019

“Nothing Stands in the Way of Teshuva!”

Nothing stands in the way of Teshuva. Even wicked Pharaoh can repent.

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Bo 5778-2018

“Deceptions at the Behest of G-d”

The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is looked upon by all as a universal paradigm of the struggle for freedom from oppression. Yet it is punctuated by several instances of deception on the part of the Israelites and, it was all done at the behest of the Al-mighty G-d.

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Bo 5777-2017

“And the People Bowed their Heads and Prostrated Themselves”

Why did the People of Israel bow after hearing the laws and rituals of Passover?

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Bo 5776-2016

“How Impactful was the Plague of Locusts?”

The plague of locusts is unique among the ten plagues that were visited upon the Egyptians, because it contained a message for Pharaoh, for the Egyptians and for the People of Israel, as well. How impactful was the plague of locusts?

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Bo 5775-2015

“The Intuitive Jew”

Since the thirst for the Al-mighty can never be fully sated, a Jew must strive to become an “Intuitive Jew.”

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Bo 5774-2014

“In the Blink of an Eye”

Almost instantly, the status of the Jews in Egypt is transformed from that of vile enemy to respected friend, underscoring that salvation from G-d can occur in the blink of an eye.

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Bo 5773-2013

“Interfacing with the Non-Jewish World”

Moses boldly tells Pharaoh that not only will the Israelites not leave their flocks behind in Egypt when they depart, but that Pharaoh himself will donate flocks that will be used by the Israelites in their worship in the wilderness. This declaration raises many thorny issues about the use of non-Jewish resources in Jewish life.

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Bo 5772-2012

“The Plague of Darkness”

The ninth plague of darkness precedes the most intense and final plague, death of the first born. What exactly occurred during this plague and what role was it meant to play in preparation for the Exodus?

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Bo 5771-2011

“‘Is This What You Call Borrowing?’–Revisited”

In this week’s analysis, we offer two additional significant responses, attempting to explain how the Israelites were permitted to “borrow” vessels of gold and silver from their Egyptian neighbors, emptying out Egypt.

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Bo 5770-2010

“Finding Favor in the Eyes of the Egyptians”

The Torah reports that G-d caused the Jews to find favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. What was the purpose of this act, and what was its effect upon both the people of Israel and the Egyptians?

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Bo 5769-2009

“It’s Payback Time!”

In parashat Bo, the Torah states that the male firstling of every donkey must be redeemed with a lamb. If it is not redeemed, then it must be killed by breaking its neck. From this, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch learns that, “He who selfishly refuses to redeem his donkey, is himself sentencing it [his possessions] to destruction.” Are we now witnessing such a period in Jewish life? Is it because of our failure to use our possessions properly during the many years of abundance that we are witnessing the evaporation of massive amounts of Jewish wealth?

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Bo 5768-2008

“Is This What You Call Borrowing?”

The Torah tells us that the former Jewish slaves borrowed gold and silver utensils and garments from their Egyptian neighbors, emptying out Egypt. Couldn’t the Al-mighty have found a better way to fulfill the Abrahamitic promise that the Jews would leave their exile, slavery and persecution with great wealth?

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Bo 5767-2007

“Learning by Teaching”

The Al-mighty tells Moses to approach Pharaoh so that He may show His wonders to Pharaoh and to the people of Egypt. Scripture tells us however that another important purpose of Moses’ encounter with Pharaoh is that the Jewish people will know that the Lord is G-d, so that they will be able to communicate their faith to future generations. There is no more effective method of learning than through teaching.

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Bo 5766-2006


In order to be freed from slavery, the ancient Israelites had to go through a transformation to prove themselves worthy of freedom. By taking the sheep, slaughtering the animal, and placing its blood on the doorposts, the ancients Hebrews showed that they were prepared to defy their masters and to cleanse themselves of the pagan Egyptian practice of animal worship. Transformations need not be limited to Egyptian slaves or non-observant Jews. We can all learn a profound lesson from the transformations of the ancient Israelites, and apply it to our own lives.

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Bo 5765-2005

“Opening Their Hearts so They Can Hear”

Among the many fascinating verses of Parashat Bo, we find the actual sources of three of the four sons that are recorded in the Passover Hagaddah. There is a profound lesson to be learned from all the Biblical sources, but especially the verses that apply to the Rasha, the so-called “prodigal child.”

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Bo 5764-2004

“The More Things Change…”

In the last moments of their sojourn in the Egyptian land that held them in bondage for hundreds of years, the Jews are told to gather gold and silver from their former Egyptian masters. To the casual observer it appears that the Jews are vengefully looting Egypt. Perhaps, though, the fulfillment of this command represents the mental journey that the Jews must travel from slavery to freedom. The looting of Egypt and its repercussions, are felt to this day.

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Bo 5763-2003

“The Subtle Secrets of the Ten Plagues”

Nothing in the Torah is arbitrary. Everything is well thought out and there for a purpose. The Divine accounting system often operates on the basis of midah kineged midah, that no act is ever unaccounted for, no good deed is ever uncompensated, and no evil deed ever goes unpunished. A careful study of the Ten Plagues with which the Egyptians were struck, uncovers an uncanny sense of balance, underscoring how the plagues were direct retribution for specific acts of persecution that the Egyptians visited upon the Israelite slaves.

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Bo 5762-2002

“Rituals Work, Rituals Work”

The prodigal child of the Haggadah asks, “Why do we need all these mitzvot and all the rituals?” The rituals of Judaism are vitally important; they are the flesh that covers the bones and give substance and meaning to the words of our sacred texts. Without rituals we are practicing an eviscerated form of Judaism, “Play-Dough” or “Mother Goose” Judaism, if you will.

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Bo 5761-2001

“The Slave Mentality”

The Mechilta tells us that what a simple maidservant saw at the Red Sea even the greatest prophets of the future were not to see. If G-d was so close and so palpable to the ancient Israelites, how then was it possible for the Jewish people to lose faith so quickly? Unfortunately, this generation of Hebrews, who were brought up in Egyptian slavery that lasted for over 100 years, were unable to disassociate themselves from the slave mentality that they had acquired. Not even miracles could change their fixed attitudes. Therefore, that generation could not enter Israel and had to be replaced with a more appropriate generation, one that was born in freedom.

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Bo 5760-2000

“Rational Love and Emotional Love: A Lesson From Tefillin”

From the ritual of tefillin we learn that there is both “rational love” and “emotional love,” a love of the mind and a love of the heart. While both these loves are important, in Judaism emotional love trumps rational love.

Link to full version