08.01.2011 3.Shevat, 5771
Parasha Bo: Nation or religion
‘And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days.’ (Exodus 10:22)
This week’s biblical portion details the genesis of the first great holiday of the Hebrew calendar as well as of Jewish history, the Festival of Passover or Pessah. But what is the real nature of our celebration? Is it a national holiday, the commemoration of our birth as a nation (akin to the American Fourth of July), or is it a religious holiday, the commemoration of our declaration of fealty to the God of Israel and the cosmos, akin to the American Thanksgiving?
The ramifications of this question are quite far-reaching, both in terms of who should celebrate Pessah as well as what ought be emphasized during our lengthy discussions around the Seder table!….