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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Bo

Parshat Bo

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The transition between Sefer Bereishit and Sefer Shemot has begun. It was once pointed out to me that these two Seforim are in a sense mirror images of each other. The initial verses of Bereishit with the very first creative statement of G-d "let there be light"are among the brightest in the Torah. But Sefer Bereishit ends, with one of the most dismal verses in the Torah: "And Yosef died…and they embalmed him, and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt."

Sefer Shemot, on the other hand, begins most dismally with the death of the tribes and the bitter enslavement in Egypt. Yet it ends with one of the brightest verses in the Torah: "And the (protective) cloud of the Lord was upon the Tabernacle by day, and a fire was upon it by night…throughout all their journeys."

I once heard that we can attribute the differing tones of these Seforim to the fact that Sefer Bereishit ends with the tribes having made their way in Galut. Galut may have started out bright, especially when it was guided by the towering personalities of Yaakov, Yosef and his brothers, but in essence it has not future, and therefore ends in darkness. By the end of Sefer Shemot, however, Klal Yisroel is making its way towards Eretz Yisrael. Their sojourn may have had its intermediate difficulties, but it was guided by the fiery light of G-d.

Hence the Sefer, which began so dismally, dramatically changes its tone and manages to end so brightly, with the consistent guidance of G-d throughout the journey.
Rabbi Moshe Ch. Sosevsky
Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Ohr Yerusahlayim, Ed. D and a former editor of "Jewish Thought': A Journal of Torah Scholarship published cojointly by Ohr Yerusahalayim and the Orthodox Union.
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