The parashah opens up with just three more plagues to go!
Hearing about the plague of locusts about to come, Paroh’s servants cry out to him to send the Jews out. He calls in Moshe and Aharon and tells them he will let the men go serve Hashem. However, Hashem wants all of the Jews to leave, and so He commands Moshe and Aharon to bring on the next plague.
Plague #8: Locusts swarm the entire Land of Egypt, eating any growing things left anywhere in the land.
Paroh hurries to call Moshe and Aharon again. “I have sinned!” he says, asking for the plague to be stopped.
Moshe prays to Hashem and the locust swarm is blown completely away. Of course, Paroh changes his mind again and does not let the Jews leave.
Plague #9: The Land of Egypt is covered with an impenetrable darkness. For the first three days, the Egyptians cannot move, and they hear the Jews going through their possessions, taking the bounty that Hashem has promised will come with them on the way out of exile. For the next three days the Egyptians still cannot see anything.
Paroh quickly calls Moshe and Aharon to tell them, “Go! All of you! Just leave your animals!” Moshe insists that everything belonging to the Jews will leave Egypt with them. Paroh’s heart is hardened and he tells Moshe and Aharon to leave immediately and never come back.
Hashem tells Moshe to warn Paroh about the plague of the firstborn before they leave. And so Paroh is warned that at midnight, all the firstborns in Egypt will die, officially separating the Jews from the Egyptians. Moshe and Aharon leave Paroh’s palace.
Hashem now commands Moshe and Aharon to teach the Jewish people about the commandment of Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the month. This is followed by the commandment for the Korban Pesach, the Passover offering. Hashem explains that He Himself will perform the plague of killing the firstborns of Egypt, and that this day, Pesach/Passover, will become a festival for the Jewish nation for all generations, for G-d will have passed over the homes of the Jews.
Moshe and Aharon give over these commandments to the Jewish people. The Jews prepare their homes for Pesach and bring in sheep for the Pesach offering. They smear the blod of the offering on their doorposts so the Angel of Death will skip over the Jewish homes.
Plague #10: Every firstborn Egyptian man and animal dies.
Paroh (the one firstborn in the all of Egypt left alive) surrenders and begs Moshe to take the Jews and leave immediately.
Picking up the dough that they have made to make bread, the Jews gather their belongings and…
The Jewish people, a mass of 3,000,000 people, leave Egypt!!!! The Jews have been in Egyptian exile for 430 years (counting from the Covenant which G-d made with Avraham foretelling the exile).
More laws of the Pesach offering are discussed, and the Jewish people are then commanded to remember the Exodus from Egypt for all our generations. The Jewish firstborn is consecrated to serve Hashem, and the commandment of Tefillin is given as a remembrance of the Exodus.
The first mitzvah, commandment, that was commanded to the Jewish people as a whole, was that of Rosh Chodesh, the sanctification of the first of every month. This mitzvah forms the basis for our whole calendar system (the lunar calendar) and therefore is a pretty basic part of our tradition! It’s so important that it is still a prominent aspect of our Jewish lives today.
Did you know that the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh is a special holiday for women?
When the Jews were gathering gold to form the Golden Calf after the Giving of the Torah, the men came to their wives to ask for their golden jewelry. The women refused to contribute to this sin, and the men had to go elsewhere to find gold.
Since the twelve tribes all sinned in the incident of the Golden Calf, the tribes lost the special connection that they originally had to the months of the year. Just like each of the three major holidays are connected to one of the patriarchs, the twelve months originally corresponded to each of the twelve tribes.
With the sin of the Golden Calf, the special connection to the mitzvah of Rosh Chodesh was transferred instead to a group of individuals who didn’t have anything to do with the Golden Calf – the women!
Today (Thursday) is Rosh Chodesh Shevat. It’s a special day for Jewish women. Women refrain from doing certain household tasks such as laundry and sewing.
How will you celebrate your special day this Rosh Chodesh?
Listening to “Rosh Chodesh” by Shira Girls Choir on the album L’chu V’nelcha! I’ve recommended them before and I’ll recommend them again – Shira Girls Choir is awesome!
Have a super Shabbos!