Parshat Bo From Shir HaMaalot

Posted on July 21, 2008

Chapter 12, verses 23 and 24 in this week’s Parsha describe how, during the last plague, Hashem would pass over the Jewish houses when He saw the blood that the Jews were commanded to paint on their doorposts. “And you shall observe this as an ordinance for you and for your sons forever.”

The Ramban and Ibn Ezra note that the last part seems puzzling, since the command to paint the blood on the doorposts was not a commandment to be followed “forever” (every year) rather, as the Gemara clearly teaches us, it only applied that year in Egypt.

Another possible problem with these verses is raised by comparing it with verse 13 in chapter 12, which states, “The blood shall serve as a sign for you.” Rashi quotes the Mechilta in saying that this teaches us that the blood was placed on the inside of the doorpost, where only those in the house can see it. This explanation seems to contradict our verse, which tells how Hashem was able to see it as He passed over the houses. Wouldn’t it then make more sense if the blood was a sign on the outside of the houses?

To solve these problems, Tal Sh’chakim takes a new interpretation to the command. He says it can be explained as an eternal sign of how Jews should guard their homes from harmful external forces. The blood on the doorposts was, in fact, a sign for us forever. Following Hashem’s comand to make a sign inside their houses showed that this was their first priority to be done as a young, new nation. This is what Hashem “saw” when he passed over the houses. And this was what B’nei Yisroel were supposed to see from their viewpoint, inside.

This shows that a basic form of protection for our nation against harmful external forces is keeping mitzvot, commands given to us by G-d. By staying loyal to the commandments given to us by Hashem, we stay separate and special from the possible harms in our secular environment. The placing of blood on the insides of the doorposts was a sign of the importance of mitzvot, which should be a “sign forever,” to remind us of the major role G-d’s commandments play in Judaism.

Instant Torah Messenger

Shemot 10:23- “They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days.”

“Turrets of Silver” quotes the Chidushei HaRim: The worst darkness occurs when a person does not want to help his neighbor (“does not see one another”) through his troubles by lending a helping hand. The result of such behavior, when people ignore their friends’ misfortunes, is that ultimately they themselves will not be able to move from their own place (will not be able to function).

We see this in our pasuk, where originally the plague struck and no man paid attention to another. Finally, the darkness immobilized the Egyptians completely, and no one was able to move at all.