Bo

The Torah portion this week, Bo, contains the first commandment given to the children of Israel. “This month shall be to you the first of the months of the year.”

According to Ovadia ben Yoseph Sforno in the 16th century, Hashem is saying that previously your time was not your own. It belonged to Pharoah. Henceforth your time will be your own.

The renewal of the moon each month contains a message of optimism. Things can become better. In Egypt everyone lived “under the sun.” Society in Egypt was rigid and static.

Reliance on the moon as a time marker implied that the world was dynamic and that change for the better could take place. Hence the command to sanctify the new moon.

The command to sacrifice a lamb, the paschal sacrifice, an essentialaspect of Pesach, demanded great courage, as the lamb was one of the gods of Egypt. Nevertheless the commandment of observance of the new moon was given precedence.

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