Shabbat Bo: January 28, 2012/4 Shevat 5772

Parashat Bo is a favorite of Jewish educators. Three times we see instructions about giving instructions: Exodus 12:26-27, 13:8, and 13:14. In the first and third of the passages, it is expected that a child will prompt the lesson by asking a question; in the middle text, the adult is to take the lead and initiate the history lesson.


One of the scariest things about being a parent is the fear of not knowing the answer. So it’s no wonder that the Torah recognized that questions come from children from the beginning to the end of parenthood, and encouraged us to make sure we add some preemptive education to the middle. Of course, in order to be effective educators, we need to feel sufficiently empowered to do the teaching. We need to develop comfort with the curriculum, as it were.


I am excited that this week we are trying something new. Instead of the usual Shabbat Lunch and Learn format, where the rabbi teaches and the congregants learn, our teachers have been selected from among the congregation. Each has chosen an area of the Torah portion that she or he finds meaningful, and has researched commentaries to share with fellow students. The facilitators will share their ideas and welcome others to continue the conversation. It’s great to learn from our peers–not just the content that they are presenting, but from the example they are setting. We all have access to Torah, and if we are empowered to see ourselves as teachers of Torah, we will be amazed by the way we will grow from the experience. Thanks in advance to all who participate, and especially to the facilitators for taking the plunge! 


Shabbat Shalom,



Rabbi David Wise