THE GOOD SHABBOS COMMUNITY

ENJOYING YOUR JEWISH HERITAGE THROUGH FOOD, FACTS AND FUN - SHABBAT SHALOM

 

 CHALLAH, WINE,  CANDLES , READ A LITTLE, TALK A LITTLE AND SING

TO ACT OR NOT TO ACT BLOG HOME WHY ABOUT US WHO FOR CONTACT WHERE LINKS FOOD FOR SHABBOS SHARING WHAT WE DO EACH SHABBOS SHABBOS LIGHT WEEKLY CONTENT SONGS - THE MUSIC
 

The Egyptians suffer three more plagues and the Israelites finally leave Egypt 

 

a.k.a Parashat Bo 

 

God said to Moses: “Go again to Pharaoh for I have hardened his heart so I may display my signs to the people. By these signs you and your descendants will know me as the God who brought you out of Egypt.” 

             

God instructed Moses to tell Pharaoh that a swarm of locusts would cover the whole land if he did not let the people go. Pharaoh’s advisors urged him to let the people go yet Pharaoh agreed to let only the men go. Then God sent so many locusts that the land was black with swarms. 

 

Pharaoh summoned Moses. “I have sinned,” he said. “Please ask your God to remove this plague.” Moses asked God to accede to Pharaoh’s request. God did indeed remove the plague of locusts, but He also hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he yet again refused to let all the Jews leave Egypt. 

 

Then God sent darkness to the Egyptians for three days, but the area where the Hebrews lived was full of light. Again Pharaoh summoned Moses. This time he said, “Your people may leave but you may not take your animals with you.” Moses did not accept these terms, and Pharaoh shouted that if he saw Moses again he would kill him. Replied Moses: “I shall never see your face again.” 

 

The Lord told Moses that his last plague would make Pharaoh insist that the people leave. At midnight God would kill every Egyptian first-born. No Hebrew first-born would die if the people followed instructions. 

 

Every household had to get a lamb and take part in a communal slaughter of these animals. Every family should then paint each side of their doorposts with lamb’s blood. Then every family should feast, eat roasted lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. This 14th day of the beginning of a series of important months would be known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It should be celebrated for seven days, with no leavened bread eaten. On the first night of this Feast of Unleavened Bread, every descendant of the children of Israel would remember and retell the story of how God brought the Hebrew slaves out of bondage from Egypt. This celebration and tradition would be passed from generation to generation. 

 

In the middle of the night God killed all the first-born in Egypt – young and old, rich and poor, human and animal. Throughout Egypt there was a loud wailing for there was no house where someone had not died that night. 

 

With no further hesitation, Pharaoh commanded that Moses and his people depart from Egypt. The people hurried away, carrying their unleavened dough before it could rise into bread. 

 

Moses reminded the people of their obligation to commemorate these events. 

Commentary on the 15th parsha (portion of the Torah) 

The Torah consists of the five books of Moses, the first part of the Old Testament. 

 

To get to grips with this parsha, our Supermaven, Sigmund Albert Spinoza, interviews Methuselah Solomon (an Ancient Elder). Supermaven is a modern philosopher who is trying to understand Judaism and how we got where we are. He will do this every week by investigating the Old Testament.

 

SAS: Why did Pharaoh need to endure ten plagues before he finally allowed the Hebrews to go?  Could God not have hardened his heart a little less, and spared his people such terrible suffering?

MS: Remember his power and credibility depended on his refusing to yield to the God of this minority group. Remember, too, that the Egyptians thought of their Pharaoh as a God, an earthly representative of the sky god Horus. There was therefore a lot at stake in this confrontation – the divine status of the Egyptian Pharaoh was on the line.

SAS: We know, however, that Pharaoh was just a man and no match for the biblical God.

What’s the point of setting up such unequal protagonists? 

MS: You fail to understand that God was teaching Pharaoh a decisive lesson. This arrogant man, filled with hubris, had to be shown that he was totally powerless against the one true God, and so were all his deities too.

SAS: I think your story sets out to show believers in many different gods that there is only one all-powerful supreme god and that is the god of the Jews.

MS: Yes, and I think I made the point well. That’s one message readers will get, even if Pharaoh never really did.

SAS: So much for God’s lesson. All right, whether Pharaoh was persuaded or not, he conceded. God, however, could simply have freed the people himself. This would have saved a lot of disease, carnage and destruction. But what was this display of plagues supposed to demonstrate to the Israelites in Egypt? 

MS: You disappoint me, Sigmund. You display so little understanding of the process of human development and the people’s growing recognition of God’s power. The people needed to be convinced of God’s power. One miracle wasn’t enough. They needed to develop trust and faith that God would always be with them – not that He’d simply perform a miracle or send down a plague here and there. They needed to learn that the gift of freedom is not the consequence of a single event, but that it requires faith and trust and endurance.

SAS: It sounds like nonsense to me. As for the children of Israel, if you ask me they were slow to learn. And I bet lots of them thought the Egyptians would hate them more for this. All these tricks identified them so clearly as enemies of the Egyptians. 

MS: I’d prefer it if you didn’t refer to the fearsome displays of God’s power as tricks, but you have, in your cynicism, made a very profound point. The children of Israel did indeed identify themselves as a people when they painted their doorposts with blood so that the angel of death could pass over their houses. This was an act of faith. Even if the slaughter of the firstborn had not taken place, they would have been targeted as a group apart by showing their commitment to Moses and his God. This is where the Israelites identified themselves to themselves and to others. God chose them and they accepted.  

SAS: It’s a mixed blessing as we all know, to our cost. We are marked, and that draws attention to us. Then on top of it, we have outmoded rituals, like eating unleavened bread for seven days. So the Hebrews left Egypt without waiting for the dough to rise? I thought their faith had already been proved. What’s the point, Methuselah? 

MS: This is the point: the Jews show their faith in God and Moses his prophet by following Moses into the wilderness, unprepared and uncertain. And Moses himself doesn’t know what’s going to happen. And it is here that the Jews start to see themselves as a people who have, with help of God, been born anew, free from slavery and launched into their new lives by a strong hand. 

SAS: So this is our myth? This is the story we must tell our children and ourselves, year after year, that God led us from bondage into freedom? And to commemorate this, we eat unleavened bread, bitter herbs and roasted lamb.  Shouldn’t we feel at all sorry for the Egyptians who lost their firstborn children and were subjected to all those other terrible plagues? 

MS: They stand as a lesson to those who do not obey the word of God and who oppress His people. Their stubbornness and cruelty was unpardonable. 

SAS: I can’t accept it, Methuselah. You are a sage, a wise man. And yet you say these things. 

MS: And you, my friend, are still in the wilderness. 

History 

 

The Parsha we have just read comes from the five books of Moses, the Torah. The dialogues between Sigmund Albert Spinoza and Methuselah Solomon are about the meaning of the Parsha.

 

What we know about Jewish History, however, is based in fact, and on historical records. 

 

If you’d like to know more about the real history of our extended Jewish family, read on.

 

Anti-Semitism in the 16th to 18th Centuries 

 

In 1519 Martin Luther spearheaded the Protestant Reformation in what is now Germany. He started off by condemning the inhumane treatment of Jews, but became progressively anti-Semitic in his views. In 1543 he produced a pamphlet, On the Jews and Their Lies, in which he advocated getting rid of the Jews by setting fire to synagogues and houses, silencing rabbis, seizing property and denying Jews safe passage. In 1573, due to the lobbying of Luther’s followers, Jews were expelled from Germany. Some interpret Luther’s work as sanctioning the murder of Jews. 

 

Meanwhile, the Italian Inquisition that had started in 1267 and lost its impetus in 1299 ignited again under Pope Paul III in 1542. In 1553, 12,000 copies of the Talmud were burnt in Italy. Pope Paul IV (1555-1559), who’d been the cardinal overseeing the burnings, took the Inquisition further, ordering all Jewish refugees arriving from Portugal to be burnt at the stake. This set a precedent for further public burnings. After the Inquisition’s power had been challenged by rioters in Rome, Pope Pius V (1566-1572) and Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) re-established it as an instrument of cruelty. 

 

The 17th century brought little respite for the Jews in Europe, although Cromwell effectively allowed Jews back into England in 1656. However, 40 years before, King Louis XIII of France had ordered all Jews to leave that country, and in 1670 Jews were evicted from Vienna. One of the worst-ever episodes in Jewish history took place between 1648 and 1655 when the Cossacks slaughtered 100,000 Jews in the Ukraine – possibly many more. 

 

In 1727 Catherine I of Russia ordered all Jews in Russia and the Ukraine to leave, an edict not successfully enforced. Elizabeth of Russia then ordered all Jews out of Russia in 1742. In 1745, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria, expelled all Jews from Bohemia, but let them return in 1748 if they paid “queen’s money”.  

 

The climate for Jews in Europe improved slightly in the latter half of the century, one reason being the immense literary reputation of Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), who was suitably scornful of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II’s Toleranzpatent that accommodated Judaism in only a very limited way. In Russia, where Jewish rights were recognized by Catherine the Great (1762-1796), Jews were nevertheless confined to a region called The Pale of Settlement from 1791 and had to pay double taxes.  

 

The first Russian pogrom was only 30 years away. If things had been bad before, much worse was to come. 

 

Here follows a discussion on this historical segment by the Father, Chaya and Ben. 

 

CHAYA: I’ve often heard it said that Martin Luther’s writings were anti-Semitic, but I don’t understand how very devout and highly moral people, even today, follow his teachings. 

BEN: How can they be regarded as moral if they follow the teachings of someone who was clearly a racist and subscribed to ethnic religious cleansing?

DAD: I think this one is hard to take, but we should remember that most people are swept up by the massive tide of public sentiment. Martin Luther, like many other leaders, was a creature of his time. His main target was the corruption in the Catholic Church of the day. As a revolutionary, he burned with passion and zeal, and, as is often the case, the Jews were visible and easy targets.  Don’t forget, someone had to have killed Christ, and in the Christian drama we played that role.

BEN: I don’t know. It seems so crude and unthinking that all over Europe for centuries Jews were seen as Christ-killers, all evil, greedy and a danger to civilisation.

CHAYA: Look, even today, certain groups of people are demonised because of what we think they believe. We don’t know if the accusations are true, but whole nations suspect and condemn the targeted groups. As it happens, the Jews are off the hook this time, but we should be vigilant about this kind of madness.

DAD: You’re right, Chaya. But as you can see, it’s not easy to stand up for a group of people whose beliefs are strange, and often unknown to us. It seems that the majority of people find it easier to believe the clichés and not get beyond them. And then it’s just a matter of time before whole civilisations engage in modern-day witch-hunts.

BEN: If you look at the history of the Jews in Europe it’s clear that this is what happened, over and over again. And yet you can understand the way this works – if you believe what you are told, time and again, the same false evidence and accusations continue to stick. The Jews have been blamed for so long, and for so much, people think there must be something to it.

CHAYA: The question is, what can be done to stop this kind of madness, no matter whom it’s directed against?

DAD: There’s no clear answer, I’m afraid. But taking nothing for granted, and accepting no unsubstantiated claims about whole groups of people would be a good start.

 

Sayings 

 

Every Shabbat we read five short sayings that express, with typically Jewish wit and humour, insightful reflections on this life of ours. 

 

Here are tonight’s sayings:

 

  • Not to teach your son a trade is like teaching him to steal.  (Talmud)
  • When your neighbour is in trouble, abstain from visible pleasures.
  • The longest road in the world is the one that leads from your pocket.
  • Trees bend only when young.
  • A good deed is most worthy when no one knows of it.

Celebration of Great Lives 

 

Every Friday night we celebrate the achievements of our Jewish family in contributing to changing the world for the better and having an extraordinary impact on those around them.  

Rosa Luxembourg (1871-1919) 

Rosa Luxembourg was born in Russian Poland. From the age of 16 she participated in revolutionary activities. In 1889 Luxemburg moved to Switzerland to continue her studies but she was forced to flee from her home country partly because of her political activities. Luxemburg entered the University of Zürich where she studied natural sciences and political economy and law. In 1898 Luxemburg completed her doctorate. She started her career as a journalist and became one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania. Between the years 1892 and 1919 Luxemburg produced almost 700 articles, pamphlets, speeches, and books. She was a leader of several left-wing political parties in both Poland and Germany and spent a lot of time in jail. She founded with Karl Liebknecht the radical Spartacus League in 1916 and drafted the Spartacists’ program. Two years later the organisation became the German Communist Party. She and Liebknecht were murdered in January 1919 by German Freikorps soldiers. Luxemburg herself did not participate in the women’s rights movement; women’s liberation was for her part of the liberation from the oppression of capitalism. However, she saw that socialist emancipation was incomplete without women’s emancipation.  She is still highly regarded in some circles of the Left today. 

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909- ) 

Rita Levi-Montalcini was born in Turin in 1909. She had a twin sister who was a gifted artist. She was a student of the famous Italian histologist Giuseppe Levi who gave her a superb training in biological science, and a rigorous approach to scientific when such an approach was still unusual. In 1936 she graduated from medical school with a summa cum laude degree in Medicine and Surgery, and embarked on a three-year specialization in neurology and psychiatry. When the Fascists issued their racial laws, she decided to build a small research unit at home and installed it in her bedroom. In the autumn of 1943, the invasion of Italy by the German army forced her to abandon her now dangerous refuge in Piedmont and flee to Florence, where she lived underground until the end of the war. She studied the effects of limb extirpation in chick embryos and continued her research at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. Together with Stanley Cohen she studied mouse tumors implanted in chicken embryos and isolated a nerve-growth factor, the first of many cell-growth factors found in animals which helped understanding of disorders like cancer, birth defects, and Alzheimer’s. For this discovery Levi-Montalcini and Cohen were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986.

 

Song  

We will now sing a traditional song to conclude our Shabbat celebration. You have a copy of the words, so please join in as we sing.

 

The song is sung  

 

Farewell and an Invitation 

 

Thank you for joining together to share our Shabbat. May you go out into the new week with renewed strength, confidence and happiness. 

 

We now cordially invite you to join us for some coffee and cake.  

     

 

 

 

HOW TO SING THE SONGS
ADON OLAM WORDS
Adon Olam David Solid Gould & The Temple Rockers
ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS
ALLE BRUDER SONG
ALLE BRIDER SONG
AL KOL ELEH WORDS
AL KOL ELEH
BASHANA words
BASHANA SONG
BEI MIR BIST DU SHEYN
BEI MIR BIST DU SCHEYN SONG
BMBDS song
CHIRIBIM WORDS
CHIRIBIM Song
DAYENU WORDS
DAYENU SONG ENGLISH
DAYENU SONG
DONNA DONNA
DONNA DONNA SONG
HALLELUYA
HALELUJA KARAOKE
HATIKVA
HATIKVA SONG
HATIKVA SONG
DAYENU
HATIKVA WORDS
HATIKVA SONG 1
HAVA NAGILA WORDS
HAVA NAGILA SONG
HAVA NAGILA KARAOKE
HAVEINU SHALOM ALEICHEM
HEVENU SHALOM ALEICHEM WORDS
HEVENU SHALOM ALECHEM SONG
HINEH MA TOV WORDS
JERUSALEM THE GOLD WORDS
JERUSALEM THE GOLD KARAOKE IVRIT
JERUSALEM THE GOLD SONG
JERUSALEM THE GOLD JARAOKE
MAYIM MAYIM WORDS
MAYIM MAYIM DANCE
OIF'N PRIPITSCHOK song
OSE SHALOM
OSE SHALOM SONG
PAPI ROS'N
PAPIROS'N SONG
PARTISAN SONG 1
PARTISAN SONG
PARTISAN SONG MUSIC
RABBI ELIMELEKH
RABBI ELIMELEKH SONG
AS DER REBE SINGT
AS DER REBBE SINGT LEONARD COHEN
AS DER REBBE SINGT SONG
RAISINS WITH ALMONDS WORDS
SIMANTOV U MAZELTOV WORDS
SIMAN TOV MUSIC
MAZELTOV CLARINET
TUMBALALAIKA WORDS
TUMBALALAIKA MUSIC
TUMBALALAIKA MUSIC
TZENA TZENA
TZENA TZENA
TZENA TZENA 4
TZENA TZENA The Weavers
TZENA TZENA WORDS
ALLE BRIDER KLEZMATICS
ALLE BRIDER KLEZMATICS
HATIKVA STREISAND
HATIKVA STREISAND
BIM BAM SHABBAT SHALOM FOR KIDS
BIM BAM SHABBAT SHALOM FOR KIDS
YO EN ESTANDO - SEPHARDIC
ELIYAHU SEPHARDIC
SEPHARDIC SONG
SEPHARDIC SONG 3
Sholem Aleichem Susan Allen
Shalom Aleichem Susan Allen
OTHER VERSIONS OF SONGS
DUVID CROCKET WORDS
DUVID CROCKET MICKEY KATZ
MODERN PASSOVER SONGS
This will help you find yourself]