Candle lighting time is 5:03
This week’s parshah is Bo, a continuation of the telling of the plagues against including locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The parshah also includes the laws of Passover, the commandment to wear tefillin, and the requirement to consecrate the first-born animal and redeem the first born son.
The Torah parshah says, “With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes (Tefillin), for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt.”
I must admit that I have donned tefillin on only a few occasions since my Bar Mitzvah, yet the requirement is quite clear here and in the Shema where we read, “you shall bind them for a sign upon your hands and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.”
There are many other mitzvot that a good many modern Jews do not follow, including the dietary laws and a strict following of the rules of Sabbos. My excuse is that in our modern, fast paced, assimilated world it is just too hard to follow all of the rules, but if I lived in a community surrounded only by other Jews, a community in which everyone followed all of the mitzvot, compliance to the mitzvot would be so much easier.
And yet, even in Israel, a Jewish state where the pressure to assimilate is so much less, many people do not follow all of the mitzvot.
I know that following all of the mitzvot is hard, and in our modern world for many of us it is virtually impossible, but a wise Rabbi used to tell his congregants that God is happy every time we try to obey another mitzvah. So why not scratch one of your New Year’s resolutions and replace it with a new mitzvah to follow this year. Maybe give up that bacon with your eggs in the morning, or perhaps you might say kiddush on Friday evening. It might make you and God just a tiny bit happier.
What do you think?
The first JLI course of the new year, Living With Integrity, begins on either Sunday, January 3 or Wednesday Feb 3 at the Chabad of the South Hills and continues for six weeks. I took the last course, The Kaballah of You, this fall and it was very insightful. Contact the Chabad at 412-344-2424, or visit their web site at www,chabadsh.com for more information.