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Parshas Bo: Sacrifice for Torah

“Then Moshe called for all the elders of Yisrael and said to them, Draw out and take your lambs according to your families and kill the passover offering” (Exodus 12:21)

After all the plagues and the decimation of Israel, G-d tells Moshe to tell the Jewish people that the last thing they have to do is kill the lamb and sprinkle the blood on the doorpost of their home so G-d can pass over their homes during the plague of the killing of the first born. If the sheep was a god for the Egyptians, how could G-d command them to do this if it meant killing their god right in front of their eyes? Hadn’t the Jews gone through enough to be redeemed?

We know that in the plague of darkness their is a discrepancy as to how many Jews died. Some say it was 50% some say more. The reality is that it could be that only 20% of the Jewish people actually made it out! Even so, G-d wanted the Jewish people to go through one last test and this was it. They had to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that they would be G-d’s people by putting their lives in danger by killing the Egyptian god.

Is this what the Torah demands from us? To this extent a person has to be willing to give up their lives for its sake? There is a famous story the Talmud tells about Rabbi Akiva. The Shema says that we should love the L-rd our G-d, with all of our heart, with all of our soul and with all of your might. With all of our soul Rabbi Akiva understood it meant that even if we have to give up our souls for the sake of Torah!

As he was being killed, his students asked is this really what the Torah meant? The Talmud then tells us as he said the Shema his soul left him. Not everyone agreed with how Rabbi Akiva interpreted this verse but he understood that in the back of our minds this certainly could happen and what we have to be willing to give up for Him! Are we any different?

Don’t we know that at some point there may be a time when we would have to give up our lives for His sake? No one wants to go through this but if we are forced to then we will do that. This is the sacrifice that Jews have made throughout the millennium and we learn this out from the Jews in Egypt! This event shaped the Jewish people into who they became on the way for them to accept the Torah!

We have a lot to learn from this. We can take this important message and put it in our everyday lives. Nothing is more important than learning Torah and keeping its mitzvos! Regardless of the difficulties we may have.we still have to keep the mitzvos to the best of our ability! We have to keep in mind and be willing to give up our lives for our precious heritage!

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author RabbiChaimCoffman