Weekly Torah Portion: Bo (Exodus 10:1−13:16)


In this Torah portion, God sends the eighth and ninth plagues, locusts and darkness, but Pharaoh still refuses to free the Israelite slaves. God tells Moses that the tenth plague will be killing all the firstborn Egyptians. God commands each Israelite home to slaughter a lamb and spread the blood on their doorposts, in order to protect their firstborns. After the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh demands that the Israelites leave. Read an extended summary on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“This weekend, when the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes to mind, in this week when we were privileged to listen to the last State of the Union of President Barak Obama, in this week when we were invited to listen to yet another Republican candidates debate, or sadly to hear that Los Angeles is the city with the largest population of homeless people in the United States. I have an invitation to all of us: Let’s instead decide ourselves to do what we wish God had done – to make the choices we wish God had made…” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 2016. Read the full drash

“In BO, there is darkness, a darkness so thick we can touch it. Haven’t we all been there, in dim or dark places reaching for light. I often look to my community to help me through the darkness.” – Ginger Jacobs in 2015 Read the full drash

“If you’ve ever been plagued with what is commonly called clinical depression, you probably recognized the description from Torah of the plague of darkness. Each person was not unable physically to see their brother, their neighbor, but rather, unable emotionally to see someone else… to care about them, Unable to get up not because you can’t see where you’re going – but emotionally unable to get yourself out of bed or off the couch or out of the house and into the world.” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 2007. Read the full drash

“We are all mixed multitude, we are the trouble makers and the complainers, we are the people who try to close gaps between cultures and communities; we try to build bridges and ask for equal treatment, we try to make this world a safer place for all humanity…” – Davi Cheng in 2004. Read the full drash

“Our Torah text gives us glimpses of the darkness endured by the Egyptians as a result of Pharaoh’s stubbornness, and also of the darkness our people endured on their way to liberation. But we also see the light of hope for those whose years of bondage were ending, as they began the move toward freedom.” – Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus Read the full D’var Torah on Reform Judaism

Torah Verse of the Week*

And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how God freed you from it with a mighty hand: no leavened bread shall be eaten.” (Parashat Bo; Exodus 13:3)

Other Suggested Readings

Amy Soule discusses God’s commandment for the Hebrews to smear the blood of a sheep on their doorpost to ensure their protection from the Angel of Death as a sort of “coming out.” She argues that if we read this story as a collective “coming out” of the Hebrew people in Egypt, we may also understand “coming out” as a mitzvah and an act of faith. Read from Torah Queeries


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

Leave a Comment