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Bo 5760

Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16 )

by Kalman Packouz

The story is told of a little boy's first day in Sunday School. The rabbi gives the class a tour of the synagogue and explains the Ark, the Eternal Light and other
interesting features. The little boy sees a big brass Memorial
Board with U.S. flags on it and ask the rabbi, "What is this?" The
rabbi replies, "Oh, this is very important. It is a memorial to all of
the people who died in the Service." The little boy turns white,
starts to shake and then asks, "Friday night or Saturday morning?"

I don't think that what one doesn't know about our heritage
will usually cause a big scare ... it can, however, deprive one of
enrichment of knowledge and insights into life and personal growth.
Here's something that you might find interesting about Tu B'Shevat,
the New Year of the trees.


This coming Shabbat, January 22, is Tu B'Shevat.
Unbeknownst to many Jews, there are four "Rosh Hashanahs,"
New Years, in a calendar year:

  1. The first of the Hebrew month of Nissan is the
    New Year with regards to counting the years in the reign of the
    Kings of Israel.

  2. The first of Elul is the New Year with regards to
    tithing of the animals. (One out of ten animals born within that
    calendar year from Elul until the beginning of Elul the following year
    were given to the Temple.)

  3. The first of Tishrei is the New Year for the
    judgment of mankind -- for life and death, rich or poor, sickness or
    health -- as well as for counting the Sabbatical Year (Shmita) and
    the Jubilee year (Yovel) for the land of Israel; the counting of the first
    three years of a fruit tree when the fruit is not allowed to be eaten
    (Orlah), and calculating the tithes for grain and vegetables.

  4. The 15th of Shevat is the New Year for trees with
    reference to calculating tithes due to be given from fruit of trees in
    the time of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Tu B'Shevat is a festive day because the Torah praises the
Land of Israel with reference to the fruits of the trees and the
produce of the soil: "a land of wheat and barley and vines (grapes)
and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees and (date)
honey . ...And you shall eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord
your G-d for the good land which He has given you." (Deut. 8:8-10)
The Jewish people rejoice in the fruits, in the Land and in the
Almighty Who has given us life.

It is celebrated by eating the special types of fruits for which
Israel is renown: dates, pomegranates, figs, grapes -- and buxer
(carob or St. John's bread -- I don't think he was Jewish, though).
It's also celebrated by planting trees in Israel and if you can't get to
Israel, you can purchase trees to be planted in Israel from your local
Jewish National Fund Office.

Portion of the Week

This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of
locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of
Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear
tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one's first born
son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will
ask you about these commandments and you will answer: "With a
show of power, G-d brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery.
When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, G-d killed all the
first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to G-d all
male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And
it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your
eyes, for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt."
(Ex. 13:15)


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by
Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "And Moshe said, 'This is what the Almighty said, "Around midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die" ' " Exodus 11:4). Rashi cites the Sages of the Talmud that the Almighty actually told Moshe that exactly at midnight He would cause the plague of the
death of the firstborn. Why did Moshe then change His words to "around midnight" when he repeated the Almighty's words to the Egyptians?

Rashi brings the answer of the Sages that "Perhaps
Pharaoh's astrologers will err in their calculation of the precise
midpoint of the night and say that 'Moses is a liar' " (Talmud Bavli,
Berachot 4a).

Amazing! Nine plagues have already hit the Egyptians.
Moshe has warned them and been correct each time. Now the
firstborn of each family throughout Egypt dies. What difference
does it make whether it is a few minutes before or after midnight?

The answer: This illustrates the power of a person to find
fault. From what might have been a minor discrepancy -- and
perhaps a discrepancy due to their own calculations -- they would
seek to call Moshe a liar and discredit him totally. When a person
wants to find fault, he will find something.

Our lesson:

  1. Be aware of when we fall into the trap of finding fault when we should be seeing the bigger picture.

  2. Be aware when others are fault-finders ... and tread gently because
    these personalities are easily irritated and difficult to deal with.

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