Make the Present by Remembering the Past

Today we look at Bo, Exodus 10:1 – 13:16 – the conclusion of the plagues leading to the Israelites leaving Egypt and servitude.

The main theme of this parashah culminates in the practices of Passover, a holiday of remembrance. We remember in large part through dietary restrictions:

Exodus 13:6 For seven days you are to eat matzot [unleavened bread], and on the seventh day (there is): a pilgrimage-festival to Adonai.
7 Matzot are to be eaten for the seven days, nothing fermented is to be seen with you, no leaven is to be seen with you, throughout all your territory.
8 And you are to tell your child on that day, saying: It is because of what Adonai did for me, when I went out of Egypt.

This reminder of our identities as the descendants of the oppressed gets reinforced every year through a week-long change in what we eat.

Elul and the High Holy Days also ask us to remember – to remember our own actions and their impacts, to remember our obligations to ourselves and others, and to remember those who are no longer with us.

We may not always have a vivid physical reminder of the past, so we must find ways to have the past and its meaning live on through the changes we make in ourselves.