Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
Contact Us

Bo in a Nutshell

Bo in a Nutshell

Exodus 10:1–13:16


The last three of the Ten Plagues are visited on Egypt: a swarm of locusts devours all the crops and greenery; a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land; and all the firstborn of Egypt are killed at the stroke of midnight of the 15th of the month of Nissan.

G‑d commands the first mitzvah to be given to the people of Israel: to establish a calendar based on the monthly rebirth of the moon. The Israelites are also instructed to bring a “Passover offering” to G‑d: a lamb or kid is to be slaughtered, and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, so that G‑d should pass over these homes when He comes to kill the Egyptian firstborn. The roasted meat of the offering is to be eaten that night together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs.

The death of the firstborn finally breaks Pharaoh’s resistance, and he literally drives the children of Israel from his land. So hastily do they depart that there is no time for their dough to rise, and the only provisions they take along are unleavened. Before they go, they ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver and garments—fulfilling the promise made to Abraham that his descendants would leave Egypt with great wealth.

The children of Israel are commanded to consecrate all firstborn, and to observe the anniversary of the Exodus each year by removing all leaven from their possession for seven days, eating matzah, and telling the story of their redemption to their children. They are also commanded to wear tefillin on the arm and head as a reminder of the Exodus and their resultant commitment to G‑d.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (27)
January 16, 2016
Roasted, not boiled. We see in this and the preceding parashat that waster is used as an agent of destruction, if you will. From here the progression is to water mastered at the Sea of Reeds and finally to bitter water made sweet at Marah. Perhaps there is a clue in this. Roasted, not boiled.
January 21, 2015
Roasted lamb
The ancient Egyptians worshiped sheep, and the Jews were commanded to sacrifice a lamb as an expression of their faith in one G-d and rejection of idol-worship. The lamb had to be roasted whole, over an open fire, so it would be evident to all that it was indeed a lamb. See also this link .
Rochel Chein for
January 21, 2015
the passover lamb why was it roasted
could someone please tell me why was the lamb roasted and not boiled cooked....
January 3, 2014
The Many Faces of Bo
Religion means different things to different people at different times within their lives.

The "first exposure" is generally cartoon-imagery, which conveys a 'general message' (literalist version), but is really more about introducing concepts. The down-side is that this is as far as most peoples' "religious training" ever goes.

And then, as we live life, we see parallels we did not see before, because we had not experienced enough life yet to make those "connections."

And then, for some, new meanings, new 'lessons,' new ideas, new ways to utilize wisdom in one's own life become apparent.

Some of us see every name as a metaphor for a concept, because the language is so ancient, so evolved, unlike English which is a new language that was designed to be "compartmentalized" to sell knowledge as products and services (via credentialing and entertainments). Translations are only that, "guesstimates," and the rich metaphors get "diluted" if not lost.

and Bo's about that, too, eh? :)
Spokane, WA
December 30, 2013
Nobody rejoiced at the killing of Nazi children at Dresden, but it had to be done.
Nobody, myself included, ever rejoices at the death of Nazi children, including at Dresden or when somehow GD killed all the firstborn of the Egyptian totalitarians in the mystical text of Exodus. And obviously all of the 'firstborn' of the Egyptian does not necessarily mean that the first born of the Egyptian enslavers were children, they were mostly adults who were first born of the Egyptians.

I actually feel badly for the stupidity of the Nazis at Dresden and the Egyptian enslavers; it was their parents own fault that GD placed sevenfold curses on the Nazis and on the ancient Egyptians for their war against Jews' civil liberties.
December 30, 2013
Re: The first Mitzvah
New moon = first mitzvah GIVEN to the Jews.
Pru u'revu ("be fruitful and multiply") is the first MENTIONED in te Torah, which was given some time after the former mitzva was given, at Har Sinai, with the rest if the Torah.

In other words, at the time of Adam there was no Torah given to Jews as of yet, so naturally it did not technically apply as a mitzva until later when the Torah was given.
Yosef Yitzchak
January 20, 2013
to Jeff Pots
- The first born weren't all children!
- Read your history, like any other many were killed in the civil war. Story of passover is God's war on extreme injustice the civil war was man against man.
- Nations always pay a price for actions of their leaders, this was no different.
- Who's celeberating the slaughter of children? Where do you get this garbage from?
david k.
January 18, 2013
It is a sevenfold sort of thing....
The totalitarian Egyptians tried to murder the Jews, the Egyptian children ended up being killed by GD instead of murdering and enslaving the Jews. There is a difference between killing and murdering.

It reminds me of the firebombing of Dresden in which many of the Nazis' children were brutally killed...the Nazis' children were killed, they were not murdered, there is a difference. The families of Nazis actually do not have the legal right to be alive at all.
January 18, 2013
I agree totally with you Yehuda Shurpin. G d dos not rejoice when the wicked are destroyed. Nor do we celebrate this. Israel doesn't mark holidays for this reason. We celebrate our freedom separate from this. Most importantly we are ordained to commemorate Israel's salvation. To keep all of G d Sabbath's and Feast Days for they are Holy.
Wendy Lockwood
Lawton, Oklahoma
January 17, 2013
To Jeff Potts
Freedom from slavery is being celebrated, not the slaughter of children, which the above author reminded you that was decided by the Egyptians.