Since every word of our holy Torah carries with it many layers of significance, it is incumbent upon us to understand why this particular word, Bo, is employed by the Torah to describe a certain situation.
The yahrzeit of Rav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, often referred to by the name of his seforim, Seridei Eish, occurs this week. Since a teshuvah by him on the subject of kosher animals is the basis for much of this article, I thought it appropriate to discuss this topic.
Moshe Rabbeinu, who grew up as a prince in Paroh’s house, as the adopted son of the king’s daughter, and engaged in negotiations with Paroh, reached a new high in our parasha. The Torah describes him as having a lofty perch, both among his Jewish brethren and among the Egyptian nobility (see Shemot 11:3). Despite this, Moshe remained the most humble of men, as the following gemara highlights: “The pasuk says: ‘Not due to your great numbers amongst the nations did Hashem desire you…’ – Hashem said to Israel: ‘I have desired you because even when I bestow greatness upon you, you make yourselves small before Me; I gave greatness to Moshe and Aharon, and they said “What are we?”’” (Chulin 89a). Moshe did not consider himself a “gadol.”
As the Torah describes the preparations for the Exodus, the Torah writes that Bnei Yisrael lived in Egypt for 430 years (Shemot 12:40-41). Chazal ask that this seems to contradict the prophecy to Avraham that his descendants would be in a foreign land in which they would be enslaved and tortured for 400 years (Bereishit 15:13). They further contrasted it with a few hints that, from the time that Yaakov went down to Egypt, only 210 years passed until the Exodus, which is even less than half of the 430 that are mentioned.