Culture, Religion

The Vort: Bo – Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

In the spirit of great Jewess/puppeteer Shari Lewis, creator/host of the children’s television show Lamb Chop’s Play-Along and author of the revolutionary awful “One-minute Bible Stories” for children, this week I would like to share with you some very brief musings on Parashat Bo. I would like to thank Ben Fink for co-writing this piece with me.
Among the many episodes contained within this week’s Torah portion, we read of the Hebrew families in Egypt painting their doorposts with the blood of a slain lamb. The idea here is that the blood-covered doorpost will serve as a marker of the Hebrew home, and the first-born child will be saved. In killing the pascal lamb and partaking of its blood, each Hebrew father assumes the role of Abraham: slaying an animal in lieu of his beloved son.
On the one hand, this gesture represents a collective validation of the children of Israel. On the other hand, these latter-day Abrahams are not subjected to nearly as dramatic a test of faith as Abraham experienced.  If every father thus is made a patriarch, the role of patriarch is then not revolutionary, but merely functionary.
Shabbat shalom.

3 thoughts on “The Vort: Bo – Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  1. Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamarat’s explanation for the blood on the doorposts is to remind the Israelites not to leave their homes so as not to take part in violence against the Egyptians:
    “When a man constantly portrays to himself scenes of terror, when he asserts that everyone wants to obliterate him and that he can rely only on the power of his own fist, by this he denies the kingdom of truth and justice and enthrones the power of the fist. And since the fist is by nature poor at making distinctions, in the end defense and attack become reversed: instead of defending himself by means of the fist, such a man becomes himself the assailant and destroyer of others. Hence, like begetting like, others repay him in kind, and so the earth is filled with violence and oppression.
    This message was conveyed by the Holy One, blessed be He, in connection with the last of the plagues upon Egypt, when He himself executed the judgment of death directly by His own power: ” ‘For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night,’ I and not an intermediary.” Now obviously the Holy One. blessed be He, could have given the Children of Israel the power to avenge themselves upon the Egyptians. but He did not want to sanction the use of their fists for self-defense even at that time; for, while at that moment they might merely have defended themselves against evil-doers, by such means the way of the fist spreads through the world, and in the end defenders become aggressors.
    Therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, took great pains to remove Israel completely from any participation in the vengeance upon the evil-doers, to such an extent that they were not permitted even to see the events. For that reason midnight, the darkest hour, was designated as the time for the deeds of vengeance, and the Children of Israel were warned not to step outside their houses at that hour-all this in order to remove them totally and completely from even the slightest participation in the deeds of destruction, extending even to watching them.”
    – Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamaret, 1906

  2. does anyone else see the segue from our beloved (well, forgotten about until now) childhood puppet lambchop, to talk of killing the paschal lamb to smear its blood on doorposts, as an incitement to violence?

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