Sedra of the week: Bo

Sedra of the week: Bo

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

Moses and Aharon warn the Egyptians of the seventh plague: locusts. The frightening prospect of a swarm scared Pharaoh’s servants into telling him that Egypt was lost.

Pharaoh ignored the warning and the locusts came, devouring all the crops in the field not already destroyed by the sixth plague of fiery hailstones.

Moses commands them away from Egypt and a terrible darkness descends on the Egyptian homeland, while Israelite Goshen js bathed in light.

Pharaoh releases his Hebrew slaves by telling Moses to never see him again. However, Moses gives him warning of the final plague, the death of the firstborn.

He tells the people about the first month of the calendar year. He also tells the Israelites that the tenth and final plague would only affect firstborns of Egyptians on condition the Israelites remembered to paint their doorposts and lintel with the blood of a lamb, ritually an Egyptian god.

Before leaving Egypt, the Israelites “borrow” jewels, silver and gold. At midnight, every Egyptian firstborn dies, even Pharaoh’s own heir to the throne. Half-crazed from grief, he orders the Israelites to leave immediately.

On exiting the country, the Israelites prepare for the first paschal lamb, which they ate with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

God instructs them to dedicate firstborn males to divine service and promote the ceremonies of the exodus.

God also commands the redemption of firstborn donkeys and sheep. Finally, tefillin, originally an Egyptian amulet, should now be worn on the heard and arm of the Israelite worshipper.

Rabbi Ariel Abel serves the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

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