Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Bo

Pay Attention to the Details

This week’s parsha is the introduction to the halachic process of observance of the commandments of the Torah. In every commandment there are numerous layers of meaning and importance. There is the social and moral value that the commandment represents and teaches. There are also the technical minutiae and complex details that comprise the fabric of every commandment.

The commandments regarding the observance of Pesach and of the structuring of the Jewish calendar are part of this week’s parsha. The general values of these commandments are apparent to all. Pesach represents for us the value and concept of freedom from bondage and teaches us the beginning history of our people. The calendar has always been a necessity for social and commercial life and keeps us in tune with the changing seasons of the year.

These are the general reasons and lessons of these commandments. However, as we also all know, the devil always lies in the details. What is the mechanism that will enable the story of our departure from Egyptian slavery to freedom to remain fresh and vital thousands of years later? Values only have life if they are somehow translated into human action and normative behavior.

Theories are wonderful but they rarely survive the tests of time and ever changing circumstances. Every scientific theory is therefore subjected to be proven by physical experiment and validation. Freedom is a great theory but unless somehow put into practical application in society it remains divorced from the realities of everyday existence. Just ask the North Koreans or the Syrians and Iranians about freedom! It is the technical requirements of the commandment – the matzo, chametz, hagadah, etc. – that alone are able to preserve the value and validate the theory and guarantee its meaningfulness for millennia on end.

The uniqueness of the Jewish calendar lies also in its technical details. The permanent calendar that we now follow, established in the fifth century CE, is a lunar calendar with adjustments to make it fit into a solar year span. The technical halachic details how the last Sanhedrin squared this circle are too numerous and detailed for the scope of this parsha sheet.

However, suffice it to say, that if not for those details and calculations our calendar would long ago have disappeared just as the ancient calendars of Egypt, Babylonia, Greece and Rome have disappeared. Many people look at calendars not as Godly commandments but as merely a practical way to mark our passage through time. Thus the details are really not important to them since we are only interested in the so-called result.

But in Judaism, the details are of equal if not even greater importance than the general value and end result that they represent. In our time, those Jews who for various reasons only concentrated on the values, who were good Jews at heart but observed no commandments or details, rarely were privileged to have Jewish descendants.

Of course concentrating only on the details and ignoring the value system that it represents is also a distortion of the Godly word. Seeing both the general value of a commandment and observing its necessary technical details in practice is the guarantee for allowing the Torah to survive amongst the people of Israel for all times.

Shabat shalom,

Rabbi Berel Wein


Crash course in Jewish history

Rabbi Berel Wein- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com


 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Days of Eight
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Tightening the Hellenistic Screws: A History of Chanukah, Part I
Rabbi Naphtali Hoff - 5774

Designated Eater
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Chanaukah Lights
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Perseverence
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5762

A Lesson In Exile & Redemption
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

ArtScroll

Leaving... a Good Impression
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760

Time Study
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Fourteen Sleepless Years
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5770

> Stairway to Heaven
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Shehechiyanu in Bergen Belsen
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

The Meaning of Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Eisav Had It Easy. Yaakov Travels a Different Path
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5764

Torah Values
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Well-Fare of a Tzaddik
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

A Time to Be Silent
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information