Friday, January 14, 2005

II-3 Bo Locust Fly From Here

II-3 Bo Locust Fly From Here

5. II-3 Bo " Come" 14 Jan 04

Torah: Exodus 10-13:16
Haftorah: Jer 46:13-28


1. Ex 10:1-11
2. Ex 10:12-23
3. Ex 10: 24-11:3
4. Ex 11:4-12:12:20
5. Ex 12:21-28
6. Ex 12:29-51
7. Ex 13:1-16


Negotiations between Moses and Pharaoh continue: The last three plagues, Locusts, Darkness and Death of the Firstborn, descend upon the terrified Egyptians. Pharaoh temporarily relents when his son dies. The Israelites get ready to shift as they celebrate their first Passover. Israel's redemption appears through the darkness settling over the land. Darkness sympbolizes spiritual blindness, the despair of an enslaved people or those overburdened by the injustice of the world.

In Focus:

Moses replied," We will all go, young and old; we will go with our sons and daughters, our flocks and herds; for we must observe the Lord's festival."
Ex 10:9

Locust Fly From Here

Moshe is incorrigible. He returns once more to Pharaoh.This time, Moshe warns of an impending plague of locusts that will devour whatever survived through the last seven plagues.

"What is the purpose of that?" Can the Pharaoh do anything about an impending plague that derives from a natural source? Moses puts it bluntly, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let my people go so that they may worship Me." Ex 10:3

Pharaoh questions his motives. Perhaps Moses will abscond with the slaves. He bargains. They can go on condition that the children stay behind. Moses departs and the locusts arrive.

A deified King, Pharaoh is a god with absolute authority. Although his ministers perceive a lose-lose situation, insisting on concession, "How long shall this one be a snare to us? Let the men go to worship the Lord their God! Are you not yet aware that Egypt is lost?" (Ex 10:7), yet Pharaoh does not. Again, Pharaoh begs reprieve; only send the locusts away. Take the children, but leave their flocks behind. Negotiations break off. The new refusal incurs the plague of darkness, palpable as a woolen blanket, laying over the land.

Could Pharaoh reverse a natural plague or avoid it? Was Moses merely the advanced public warning system? The conflict is between the two different types of social structures and power bases. Pharaoh represents absolute autonomy. The leader of his country, he expects obedience regardless of the damage inflicted on his country and its economy. Concession involves loss of face and admission of fallibility. Moreover, the entire hierarchal Egyptian social structure would crumble, dependent on the strict control of authority. Religious and political authority were not shared, but tools to control society. An effective tool, religion, exerts psychological control over ignorant people. Fearful and susperstitious, society is easily intimidated by religious authority that threatens with terrors beyond death and supernatural repercussions. Focusing heavily on the cult of the dead, the rites in ancient Egyptian society were held in secret of a few people, having tremendous power over the political authority within the social structure. Even in contemporary society the interplay between religion and politics is highly influential, determining the outcome of social laws and political candidates. Consider the public furor over issues such as gay marriage or abortion. Such issues are not approached rationally, but through the manipulation of emotions causing psychological insecurity and anxiety within the public forum. "If gay marriage is allowed, it will degrade real marriage," but the question is never asked or answered what "real marriage is" or whether marriage is a contract between two people rather than the public with a couple.

Consider the centuries of control over education and literature imposed by the Catholic Church with its lists of banned books and censorship, methods of inquisition and torment? Even well-balanced, intelligent people were persecuted if they did not subscribe to the Square World Theorem or submit to the Papal authority. In comparison to Medieval Europe, Egypt was a small pea-patch over which the Pharaoh's scepter held sway over life and death —

Or did it?

Moses appears, demanding release of the Israelites to worship their God. The social structure is in direct opposition of Pharoah's with an invisible God with a cryptic name, "I am whoever I choose to be," and a religion that is democratic without hierarchy. The education of each child is as important as that of any priest.. Anyone can approach God with a sacrifice, even foreigners. Human sacrifice is forbidden; infanticide is an anathema, as the blood of every living creature is sacred to God.

Pharaoh demands obeisance to man. Moses insists on acknowledgement of God. Pharaoh sees only the immediate: the loss of chealp labor. Moses predicts the loss of the future cash crops with consequential disasters of famine. Pharaoh sees himself as powerful; but Moses sees the infinite might of the unseen God.

Could Pharaoh escape the plague of locusts? Only if he humbled himself and made teshuvah. Like many who relish control—relinquishing control usually comes through loss of control rather than wisdom of repentence.

Moses stands before Pharaoh with a contract in his hand on behalf of every Israelite. Rabbi Pinchas Winston writes of the four languages of redenmption and the seven terms of promise:

"Vehotzaisy--I will lead you out (of Egypt);
vehitzalty--I will deliver you (from any type of servitude);
vega'alty--I will redeem you
valakachty--I will take you (as My people). (Shemos Rabbah 6:5)

...However, the rabbis also speak about "seven terms of promise," which include the four terms of redemption and which add:

vehayissi--I will be (your G-d)
vehaivaisy--I will bring you (to the land)
venotatti--I will give (the land to you) "

Rabbi Pinchas Winston,, Perceptions, Vaera: Freedom-Speak 5759
Ex 6:6-8

Moses understands his role, not as the Big Cheese on Top, but as the emisssary, presenting the terms of a contractual relationship. When the Israelites depart, they are not becoming a liberated group of anarchists. They are exchanging rulers and social systems, from a human dictatorship to a democracy with tort law, where the law supersede human authority and limitations through divine intervention, balanced between Justice and Mercy, reflected in the names of God.


"Say therefore to the Israelite people: I am the Lord. I will free you [vehotzaisy] from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you [vehitzalty] from their bondage. I will redeem you [vega'alty] with an outstretched arm and through extraodinary chastisements. And I will take you [valakachty] to be My people, and I will be [vehayissi] your God. And you shall know that I, the Lord, am your God who freed you from the labors of the Egyptians. I will bring you [vehaivaisy] into the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and I will give [venotatti] it to you for a possesssion, I the Lord."

II-2 Va'iera, Ex 6:6-8

II-5 Jethro, Jethro Ex 19:7-19 "All the people answered as one saying, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do." v.8

Moses brings the proposal to the people and they agree to become the people of God

II-5 Jethro, Ex 20: 5-6, "For I the Lord your God am an impassioned God, visiting the guilt of the parents upon the children, upon the third and upon fourth generation of those who reject Me; but showing kindness unto the thousandth generation of those who love Me and keep My commandments."

ntroducing the new social legislation established on Mount Sinai or Horeb

Rabbi Yisroel Ciner, Parsha Insights, Vaera 5759

Rabbi Label Lam, Dvar Torah, Vaera: To Sinai and Beyond 24 Jan 04

Kolel, VaYera 24 January 04
on the attributes of names

Rav Kook, Breishith: Creation of the Universe - Twice
Shemu'ot HaRi'iah 8, Breishith 5690 (1929)


Rabbi Pinchas Winston, Perceptions: Freedom - Speak

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green, Parsha Insight: Heavy Heart

Rabbi Avraham Fischer, Bo:Defining the Service of God
My Jewish Learning

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos: Taking the Children Along

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos: Point of Return 5760

Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann, Olas Shabbos: Out Like a Light 5762

Rav Kook, from Orot, Lights: Redemption an ongong process


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