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Welcome to Our Shabbos Table

Click here for 2 year's ago divrei torah on parshas Bo
Click here for last year's divrei torah on parshas Bo

Welcome to our Shabbos Table!
We hope you enjoy this selection of short divrei Torah, presented to family and guests at our Shabbos table as a springboard for discussion. Each one is followed by a question. The responses shared at our table are enlightening, entertaining, and always thought-provoking.
Please share them at your own Shabbos table, and send us your most interesting responses. A selection of the best will be posted on the website, and eventually, included in a book. To respond, email us at responses@ourtable.org.

Parshas Bo/ Next Year in Jerusalem

“You shall take a bundle of hyssop and dip it in the blood [of the korban Pesach] … and extend the blood to the lintel and the two doorposts…” (Shemos 12:22).

Parshas Bo discusses the last three of the ten plagues visited upon Egypt, the first mitzvah given to the Jewish people – that of the New Moon and the structuring of the Jewish calendar – as well as the holiday of Pesach (including the Pesach offering) and the story of the Exodus.

Every Pesach we go all-out, spending weeks on end cleaning our homes, shopping, cooking, and preparing for our Seder. Without the korban Pesach, however, our celebration falls short. The Second Temple was destroyed by baseless hatred, and until we stamp out that ongoing sin, we have no Beis HaMikdash in which to offer the Pesach sacrifice. Every Seder ends with “Next year in rebuilt Jerusalem!” because next year we hope to be back in the Temple, finally offering the korban Pesach once again.

Asks Rabbi Yissocher Frand: If baseless hatred prevents the proper celebration of Pesach, why don’t we use the Seder to foster unconditional love? Why not work on what we’re lacking, so next year will be different?

Rabbi Frand explains in the name of the Ben Ish Chai that we actually do tackle this issue at the Seder.

Double Dippings

The third of the Four Questions is “Why on all other nights do we not dip even once, but tonight we dip twice?” According to the Ben Ish Chai, the first time we dip (in salt water) alludes to the first dipping in Jewish history: After Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, they dipped his coat in blood to suggest that he’d been killed by a wild animal instead. This whole ugly story is the prototype of baseless hatred. In fact, Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, ztz”l, maintained that Jews have suffered centuries of blood libels precisely because Joseph’s brothers bloodied his coat: their baseless hatred led to the world’s baseless hatred of Jews.

The second dipping at the Seder, when we dip the maror in charoses, represents the dipping mentioned in our parshah. The Jews dipped a bundle of hyssop into the blood of the Pesach offering in order to paint their doorposts, so Hashem would pass over their homes during the plague of the firstborn. It’s no coincidence, adds the Ben Ish Chai, that the Torah uses the word agudah (bundle) here, for its root, iggud, means unity. This second dipping, the dipping of unity, somewhat rectified the first dipping, that of baseless hatred, which led us to Egypt in the first place. Just as the charoses sweetens the maror, the second dipping “sweetens” the first.

So we see that the Seder is in fact a powerful tool for rectifying baseless hatred. May we use it wisely. (Rabbi Yissocher Frand, “The Symbolism of the Two Dippings”)

Question for Discussion:

Pesach, the festival of freedom, affords us an opportunity to free ourselves of disunity. Who is someone helping to unite Klal Yisrael, or even any two Jews?