Parshas Bo:
 By: Yaacov Silverstein
e@mail: hm16@popeye.cc.biu.ac.il
HomePage: http://faculty.biu.ac.il/~hm16/

This Dvar Torah was prepared in the merit and memory of my grandfather: Rav Yitzchak Zev Ben Yisroel Mordechai HaKohen Solomon

Parshas Bo:


"And Hashem said to Moshe, go to Pharaoh...."

The Rabbeinu Bechayei writes that when the Torah writes "go to Pharaoh", it means that Moshe should enter Pharo's palace.

We see during the plagues, Pharaoh would enter into his palace, and in his palace, he would ignore the warnings given to him by Moshe.

He entered his palace and felt haughty there, and would thus ignore Moshe's warnings.

Pharaoh was proud of his house, this made him become arrogant, and thus he disregarded Moshe's warnings.

This entering into his palace is what caused him to sin.

The Rabbeinu Bechayei explains, that if it wasn't for his beautiful home, he wouldn't have felt so haughty, and thus, wouldn't have sinned.

How can we understand such a thing?

Pharaoh was so rich, with such large armies, he was worshipped by his people, why is it, that Davkah his palace is what makes him so haughty? He had so many other reasons to bring out his haughtiness?

Comes Rav Henach Leibowitz and explains that when a person who has Ga-avah, arrogance, is not an intellectual response, rather it is an emotional response.

Even though Pharaoh valued his wealth and power, more than he valued his home, still this did not give him that great feeling of Ga-avah.

It is Davkah the beautiful home, the swimming pool in the backyard, the large fences and watch dogs around ones house, that gives one the arrogant feeling.

Our present society that we live in, is one that judges man according to his exterior wealth, ones car, house, clothes...

People want to live like "the Joneses".

This leads to one treating his home as a luxurious showplace, instead of its intended function, a place to live in.

We must use this physical house as an item to increase our spiritual growth, a place that will nurture ones self and his family. A place which is based on true Torah values, open for guests, and a tool to increase one's service of Hashem.

Rav Elyah Meir Bloch T"zl on the Malbim's explanation of ones responsibility to build a Mishkan in his heart, says that when the term Mikdash is used, it primarily applies to the home built by husband and wife. We are supposed to build a "Mikdash Me'at".

So if we really are "Misavel on the Mikdash in Yerushalayim", maybe we can start building this Mikdash in our own homes.(Rav Fulda)

Pasuk (12:26):

The Rasha asked "What is the service this service to you" (Based on the Mechilta, this is the question of the Rasha).

The Rasha is answered in Pasuk (13:8) "It is because of this that Hashem has acted on my behalf when I left Egypt".

We see that the Rasha finds it very hard to understand Hashem's ways, he has a hard time understanding how one can take something from the physical world and use it to obtain a higher spiritual level.

Thus he asks, "Mah HaAvodah Ha-Zos La Chem", he is in essence asking, how can one serve Hashem by eating Matzah, drinking four cups of wine, and eating a nice meal, during the Seder.

The answer that we give to the Rasha is "Hakeh Eis Shenav".

For the Rasha thinks that his teeth are only for his physical needs, for him to eat and fill his stomach.

We are thus telling him, that if this is the only reason why he has teeth, than he doesn't need them.

We however know the true essence of physical. We eat, for it allows us to serve Hashem better, as it says, "Bechol Derachecha Dayhu" one should know Hashem in his everyday life. (Rebbi Yisroel Meikuzhnitz)

Rav Eliyahu Dessler brings down in his Sefer, Michtav Me-Eliyahu(part 2: Bo), a story of a boy who traveled by train from his hometown, and went to learn in a Yeshiva.

When someone came up to him and asked him, why did you come to this town, he answered, in order to learn in Yeshiva.

If he would have answered the questioner by telling him, that he came to this city, because the train brought him here, he would then be showing a sign that he is lacking true knowledge. For his traveling was to meet his desire of learning in Yeshiva, that was his goal. While the train ride was only used in order to serve this goal.

Of course to many of us, this may seem obvious, but, says Rav Dessler Z"tl, in our daily lives, we often forget this.

For example, when one gets sick (Chalila), one usually tries to figure out what caused him to get sick. Maybe it was because he walked barefoot on a cold floor, ran out in the cold while his hair was wet, or any other such reason. Yet, one usually doesn't sit down and think why he got sick, rather he wonders how he got sick. Maybe he wasn't acting the way he was supposed to act, what is the reason why Hashem wanted him to get sick now?

A person who lives a physical life in this world, only sees the present situation itself and not the ultimate goal. A more spiritual look, would be one that allows one to see the ultimate goal, thus he would care less about the way to ones goal, and what brought it out.

For who cares about the train, when ones goal is to learn in Yeshiva.

It is very clear that whatever happens to us in our lives is only to awaken us and to teach us the correct way to be "Mekadesh Shem Hashem", which is our ultimate goal in this world.

The Rasha, obviously was asking, what are all these things that we are doing, taking the physical and using it for spiritual matters?

He looks at the "Derech" - Path, and not at the ultimate goal.

He asks, "Mah Haavodah Hazos La Chem" how can the physical be used to obtain ones spiritual goal.

He leaves out Hashem's name from his question, unlike the Chacham.

He can't understand how the means can be used to obtain ones goal.

We answer that, "Ba-avur Zeh", that the ultimate reason for leaving Egypt is to take our everyday life, and our everyday jobs, and use it to serve Hashem better.

We must make sure not to make our means into our goal.



It is a Biblical obligation for all men and women, to place a Mezuzah to the right post of each doorway

of their house. One who fails to affix a Mezuzah on their door post, transgresses a positive commandment. The mezuzah also protects ones home and safeguards one's little children (Tur Y.D. 285).

Any entranceway which leads to an area which is used for normal living usage requires a mezuzah. Bathrooms and small closets do not require a mezuzah. One should ask the guidance of a competent

Halacha authority if he is unsure if a certain entranceway requires a mezuzah.

Where is it placed:


The Mezuzah is placed on the side of the opening, which is to the right of the person that enters the room/house. The right, is taken from the most common way of entering that room, wherever the traffic is greater.

The Mezuzah is placed close to the outside, within a Tefach of the outside, from the door post.

The Mezuzah must be seen from the outside, otherwise some say that it is not kosher.

If the Mezuzah can not be placed on the door post itself even in an upright position, (e.g. placement on the door post will prevent proper closure of the door), the Mezuzah should then be placed on the wall adjacent to the doorway, within one Tefach of the doorway.

It should be placed preferably, at the beginning of the top third part of the door, and at least a Tefach from the top of the door post.

In the event that a Mezuzah has been placed higher than the appropriate height, it is still acceptable and need not be repositioned. If, however, it was placed within four inches of the top of the doorway, the Mezuzah must be repositioned to its proper location.

Placed on a slant:


There is a Machlokes between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam on how the Mezuzah should be positioned.

Rashi says the Mezuzah should be placed straight up and this is how the Shulchan Aruch and the Vilna Gaon Paskin, while Rabbeinu Tam holds that it should be placed lying down.

The Rama, however, cites the opinion of Rabbenu Tam, that a vertical mezuzah is invalid. Taking this opinion into consideration, he states that the best way is to put the mezuzah on a slant, with the word "Shma" towards the inside. Since the mezuzah is neither vertical nor horizontal, it is valid according to both opinions.

Most people therefore place the Mezuzah in a leaning position with the top of the Mezuzah pointing inwards.

Thus we are "Yotzay" both opinions (Minhagei Maharil).

Where circumstances don't allow this, the Mezuzah should be affixed in an upright position.

Rented apartment:


The Mitzvah of placing a Mezuzah on ones house, is placed on the one who lives there, and not on the one who owns the house. Thus, if one rents a house in Chutz La-Aretz, if he lives there 30 days or more, he is required to place a Mezuzah. In Eretz Yisroel, one is required to place a Mezuzah on the door right away.

Touching the Mezuzah:


It's a widespread custom to kiss the Mezuzah when passing by a Mezuzah. The custom is to touch the Mezuzah with your hand and then kiss your hand. The Shulchan Aruch mentions the custom to touch the Mezuzah and to pray for Hashem to watch over you.

There are those that say the prayer, "Hashem Yishmor Tzaysi U Vohi, Meiatah, Ve-ad Olam".

The Ramah brings down in the name of the Maharil, that there is a Gemarah in Avodah Zarah(11:a), which says, when "Unkelos Klominus Hageir" was taken by the Romans and brought to the Caesar, he passed by a Mezuzah at the doorway, he placed his hand on the Mezuzah, as he passed it.

(Yoreh Deah, 285:2, Ramah and Maharil)

Q & A:


Q. Firstly, I have parents who aren't frum yet, may I buy Mezuzos for them with ma'aser money?

A. You can use maaser money for your parents to buy them mezuzas, since in this area they are poor and do not understand how important it is. I heard that from Rav Elyashiv. (Rabbi Israel Pesach Feinhandler)