1. Today contains a number of elements, each of which is a complete service in its own right, and which together form a synthesized service of the day. Although each by itself is a service of the total day — seemingly leaving no room for another type of service — nevertheless, since they were brought together on the same day by G‑d, it is certainly possible that one’s service of the day be a synthesis of all these elements. Moreover, not only can the service associated with each of these elements be performed in the same manner as if it were the only service of the day, each individual service receives added dimensions from being synthesized with the others. A parable to this is a load borne by two men: together, they can carry more than the sum each can carry individually.

The first element is that we read parshas Bo on this Shabbos. The second element is that this Shabbos, as all Shabbosim, blesses the following weekdays, which includes the 10th of Shevat (Yud Shevat), the yartzeit of the previous Rebbe, the leader of the generation. That is, this Shabbos provides extra blessings to Yud-Shevat, over and above its own greatness — which indicates the greatness of this Shabbos. The third element is that today is the eighth of Shevat (as will be explained later).

Each of these elements provide a lesson for man’s service to G‑d. Because it is a lesson associated with Torah, the strength and ability to carry out this lesson in actual deed is also provided.

This is the difference between directives of Torah and other types of wisdom. In the latter, the strength to carry out directives are not provided; whereas in Torah, G‑d gives strength to carry out His directives. Moreover, other wisdoms do not even really provide directives; they can only advise that a certain cause will produce a certain result — but not that the “wisdom” commands the person to conduct himself in a certain way. For example: Medical wisdom can advise a person that certain conduct is harmful to his health. But it does not give a command and directive not to conduct himself in this harmful way, for in medicine, there is no “prohibition” against harming oneself. Torah, however, commands man not to inflict harm upon himself. And, because Torah is the “Torah of light,” given to every Jew as a heritage, all Jews can clearly see and understand its directives.

Let us then understand the directives provided by the different elements in this Shabbos.

First of all, the directive derived from parshas Bo being read on this Shabbos: Because this Shabbos is called “Shabbos parshas Bo,” and the “name” of something is its life and meaning, it follows that “Bo” does not just sum up the contents of the parshah, but it is also the contents and life of this Shabbos. Moreover, since Shabbos blesses the days of the following week, the name of the Shabbos (“Shabbos parshas Bo”) is also the “life” of the following week. Thus, the lesson derived from parshas Bo is also associated with the second element — that it is the Shabbos which blesses Yud-Shevat. Likewise, it is also associated with today being the eighth of Shevat, since the “life” of everything in this Shabbos is associated with its name — “Bo.”

“Bo” means “Come,” “enter inside.” Formerly, man was outside, and the command “Bo” tells him to come inside. Since it is a command in the Torah, it is obvious where the person is being told to enter — to a lofty sphere of holiness, Torah and mitzvos. Moreover, since the command is “Come,” and not, for example, “Go,” it indicates that it is not enough to just go in the right direction, but one must actually enter inside. And, as in all commandments of the Torah, “Bo,” besides being a command, is also an assurance — that a Jew surely will come and enter inside.

This directive applies to all Jews, from “the heads of your tribes” to “the hewers of your wood and the carriers of your water,” for all Jews receive the Torah as a heritage. Even the heads of the tribes, who are on the loftiest levels, are also directed “Come” — they too must enter yet a higher level. And the wood-hewers and water-carriers, those on a low level, are also commanded “Come” — they too have been given the strength to reach lofty levels in service to G‑d. As G‑d says: “I do not ask except according to their ability.”

This is the idea of “going from strength to strength.” Even those on the higher levels of service to G‑d must constantly be rising from level to level. It cannot be temporary or intermittent, but a constant to “Come” inside.

The lesson from parshas “Bo” is thus also associated with the second element of this Shabbos — that it blesses the following week, including Yud-Shevat. We are commanded “Bo:” Come and enter, rising higher and higher, into the service and deeds of the previous Rebbe — which in general was the dissemination of Judaism and Chassidus to all Jews.

Although part of this service cannot be done on Shabbos, we can undertake good resolutions in these matters. Just to undertake resolutions is a good thing, as Rashi explains on the verse “they went and they did” — “Since they accepted it upon themselves, it is counted as if they actually did it.” Obviously, however, the resolutions alone are not enough, but they must be translated into action at the proper time.

May it be G‑d’s will that the idea of “They went and they did” be fulfilled by each and every one. And, consonant to the command “Love your fellow as yourself,” each person should influence other Jews to do likewise, and such that they in turn influence others, etc.

When all the service of Jews is joined together, we will merit the fulfillment of the promise “All the hosts of the L‑rd went out” — all Jews go out from exile to the true and complete redemption.

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2. The second element in this Shabbos is that it blesses Yud-Shevat. Besides the great distinction of Yud-Shevat of itself — when all the previous Rebbe’s work illuminates below and “effects salvations in the midst of the earth” — extra blessing comes from this Shabbos. That this Shabbos has the ability to give extra blessings to Yud-Shevat indicates its greatness.

The preparation to this blessing must be in an area associated with the yartzeit. Thus our service, and the resolutions undertaken today, must be associated with fulfilling the previous Rebbe’s directives. Those directives have been published and disseminated, and are well known — particularly the directives to spread Judaism, Torah and mitzvos.

This is also associated with the idea of “Bo” — “Come” (besides that stated above, that our efforts in spreading Judaism must be in the manner of “Bo”). A yartzeit is the idea of “The spirit shall return to the G‑d Who gave it” — literally. This is alluded to in the idea of “Bo” — the soul is commanded to come and enter its source ( G‑d).

The third element in this Shabbos is that it is the eighth day of the month of Shevat. On the eighth of Shevat, the elders who were in the times of Yehoshua died — an obvious connection to the passing of the previous Rebbe. This is even more emphasized since the eighth of Shevat falls on Shabbos this year. The previous Rebbe passed away on parshas Bo. Thus, when the eighth of Shevat — when the elders in the times of Yehoshua died — falls on Shabbos parshas Bo, the connection to the yartzeit of the previous Rebbe is emphasized even more.

We seethen the connection between all the three elements in this Shabbos — Shabbos parshas Bo, the Shabbos before Yud-Shevat, and the eighth of Shevat.

In practical terms: We must engage in those activities stressed by the previous Rebbe, and to do so with joy and a good heart. As Chassidus has revealed, a passing is associated with joy — “I will transform their mourning to joy.”


3. In parshas Bo, Ch. 12 verse 43 states: “The L‑rd said to Moshe and Aharon: This is the law of the Pesach (offering) ...” Rashi, quoting the words “This is the law of the Pesach,” states: “This section was said to them (the Jews) on the 14th of Nissan.”

Rashi makes this comment because otherwise a very obvious question arises. In the previous verses we have learned that the Jews ate the Pesach offering on the night of the fourteenth, and that on the 15th “all the hosts of the L‑rd went out of Egypt.” Only afterwards do we learn the section concerning the laws of Pesach, beginning with our verse. How is it possible that the Jews were only told about the laws of the Pesach offering after they had already eaten it (on the night of the 14th)?

Rashi answers this question by explaining that “This section was told to them on the 14th of Nissan.” That is, although this section is written in the Torah after the story of the exodus from Egypt, we must nevertheless conclude it was said before the eating of the Pesach offering (since it talks of the laws of the Pesach offering) — on the 14th of Nissan. As, indeed, we find in several instances that “there is no chronological order in — the Torah.”

But not all is clear:

1) Although we must conclude this section was indeed said before the eating of the Pesach, there does not seem to be any reason to conclude that it was said specifically on the fourteenth, immediately prior to eating the Pesach (on the night of the 14th). What forces Rashi to conclude it was said specifically then, and not earlier?

2) Rashi is explaining when “this section was told to them.” Why then, when quoting from the verse, does he only quote the words “This is the law of the Pesach?” He should have quoted also the words “The L‑rd said to Moshe and Aharon,” for he is explaining when this section was said — that “the L‑rd said” this section on the fourteenth, although it was written in the Torah after telling about the exodus on the fifteenth.

3) Why doesn’t Rashi explain why this section was not written in its proper place, as he sometimes does in other instances when we find a section in wrong chronological order (e.g. parshas Noach 11:32)?

The Explanation

Rashi need not explain why he is forced to conclude this section was said specifically on the 14th of Nissan (and not earlier), for it is evident from the words of the verse Rashi quotes — ”This is the law of the Pesach.” The word “this” is used only about something which can be pointed to openly. Since this section says “This is the law of the Pesach,” we must conclude that it was said immediately prior to the bringing and eating of the Pesach offering, when one can point to the offering and say “This is the law of the Pesach.” In other words, on the 14th of Nissan.

We do find that the Jews already took the lamb to be used for the Pesach offering on the 10th of Nissan — and therefore already then the section “This is the law of the Pesach” could have been said, since the offering was before their eyes. However, in the intervening 4 days between taking the lamb on the 10th and offering it on the 14th, the Jews had to check that the lamb had no blemish. Because a blemish might happen to it and that lamb be unfit to be used for the Pesach offering, it was impossible to say then “This is the law of the Pesach,” “this” referring to the lamb which would actually be used. Only on the 14th, immediately prior to it being offered and eaten, could “This” be said.

This is also the reason why Rashi quotes specifically the words “This is the law of the Pesach,” and not (also) the beginning of the verse “The L‑rd said to Moshe and Aharon.” From the words “The L‑rd said” we would not know that this section was said on the 14th specifically — and therefore Rashi does not quote it.

The reason why the Torah writes this section after the section relating the exodus from Egypt is because it deals primarily with the laws of the Pesach offering in later generations: “One law will be for the citizen and for the proselyte who dwells in your midst” — which obviously does not refer to the Jews in Egypt. Also, the law that only a circumcised man could eat from the Pesach offering did not apply at all to the Pesach offering in Egypt. This section was said on the fourteenth, and even if a man would circumcise himself then, he could not bring the offering — for the lamb had to be kept for 4 days — and it had to be offered on the fourteenth.

Since then the principal content of this section applies to later generations, it is written in the Torah after the story of the exodus. However, since some the laws of this section also obviously apply to the Pesach offering in Egypt, it was said before the Pesach was offered — on the fourteenth.