2-½ minutes to read

Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Bo – Exodus 10:1-13:16

We’re so used to thinking we’re really free. We celebrate freedom once a year on July 4th. Yet numerous things bind us. Last week I wrote about how bad habits enslave. But no matter how well you have habituated positive conduct, Parshas Bo reminds us of the ultimate tyrant:

“This month will be for you the beginning of the months, it will be for you the first of the months of the year” (Shemos/Exodus 12:1-2).

Do You Know Why You're a Prisoner-

This Sabbath’s parsha begins with the final three plagues that eventually convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt. Nissan is made the first month of the year and the mitzvah of the Passover Offering, the Pesach, is given.

Then, G-d brings the Exodus.

The parsha ends with the mitzvahs of consecrating first-born animals, redeeming a first-born son, and tefilin.

Double Phrases Have Extra Meaning

Whenever the Torah repeats itself, especially in one phrase after another, you can be sure something is going on besides emphasizing a point. In the above verse, the second group of words clearly designates Nissan as the first month of the year. A careful look at the first phrase shows it isn’t referring the calendar.

When the Almighty tells the Israelites that “This month” will be the beginning of the months, He signals a fundamental shift in their lives. No longer will they be slaves in Egypt with no control over what they do and when they do it. Rather they will take control of their labor. And they will be responsible for declaring each new month and leap year. This duty gives them ultimate control: of time.

Having control of their labor requires an intelligent reckoning of its most profitable use. Controlling time demands a wise vision of life’s purpose.

Stop Being a Prisoner to Time

The Chafetz Chaim, the great 19th-century Jewish scholar, noted, “Some people think that our task on earth is to be pious. The truth is our task is to be wise.” In Jewish law, a person is considered to be mentally incompetent if he destroys what is given to him. He could be as intelligent as Einstein. Nevertheless, someone so wasteful is mentally unsound.

If you saw someone standing on Golden Gate Bridge dump a million dollars into San Francisco Bay you would say the person is crazy. Are we any less crazy for wasting our time? Money lost can be accumulated again. But time squandered can never be recovered.

It takes discernment to know how much time should be spent caring for family, working, playing, and developing a relationship with G-d. You must go beyond balance. Happenstance decisions inevitably lead to folly. How other people use their time cannot guide you. Your situation is unique. You must be clear about your life’s purpose. The more you struggle with deciding how you’ll use your time the wiser you’ll become. As a bonus, you’ll no longer be a prisoner.

How do you ensure you use your time wisely? Please leave a comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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