Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Bo - 5778

Dear friends,

In this Parasha we have the last three plagues which convince Pharaoh and the Egyptian people to "Let the Children of Israel GO". Not only do they let them go, they force them to leave Egypt - something that was unthinkable when Moses firstappeared before Pharaoh. Pharaoh and the Egyptians wanted to hold on to their slaves, no matter what.

In this Parasha, we find the first commandment given to the Children of Israel, even before they leave Egypt. They are told that this month, the month of their liberation, becomes the first month of their calendar. A new era has come. They are no longer governed by the Egyptian calendar, its special days and observances. They must break away from the past, and start their own new calendar.

What is the purpose of a new calendar? Why not keep the Egyptian calendar and just add a holiday, the Festival of Passover, the Festival of Freedom? I believe that keeping this Mitzvah, this commandment, gives the Israelites the opportunity to break away from the slave mentality that they had throughout the hundreds of years they served as slaves in Egypt. By starting a new calendar, they take their future into their own hands. They decide which days are work days and which days are special because of their own experiences. They are no longer dependent on the Egyptians.

I believe that there is a lesson here for each one of us. Every day brings new challenges as well as opportunities. It is in our hands to start our own new 'calendar'. We have the chance to start from scratch. It is an opportunity to break away from past habits, or from depending on others. It is in our hands to begin new paths in life - to start a new 'calendar'.

"Hahodesh Hazeh Lachem Rosh Hodashim." "This month, FOR YOU, shall be the beginning of all months." Notice the word 'Lachem' - 'for you' - as if to say: You don't have to be stuck in the past. You create a new calendar.

May all your beginnings be fruitful and fulfilling.

Shabbat Shalom,