While this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Bo, takes us through the journey of the 8th, 9th, and 10th plagues brought upon Egypt; the entire Passover Seder; and the Exodus narrative; we often don’t acknowledge the crucial mitzvah that is recorded in the Parsha. In fact, this is the very first mitzvah that was given to the Jewish nation.
The Torah writes, “This month shall be for you the head of months; it shall be for you the first month of the year” (Exodus12:2). Just as G-d instructed Moses to celebrate the month of Nisan with the renewal of the new moon as the first month of the year, we too are blessed to celebrate the opportunities a new year brings us. This special occasion allows us to feel a rebirth with new opportunities to start over. It is this new beginning that is the catalyst for new year’s resolutions or other goals that we set for ourselves. Satisfying "new year, new me" mantras get spread far and wide across the internet, better body workout ads start targeting everyone they can, and everyone posts their yearly recaps showing “highlights” with creative and punny captions. We all get caught up in the remembrance and romanticized mourning of the year past with drive and determination to make this year even better (whatever your definition of that may be). The Midrash points out, it would have made more sense for the Torah to start with this first mitzvah of celebrating the new month, rather than with the Book of Genesis. The Torah’s entire historical narrative until this point is extraneous in relation to the celebration of the new month and the new year. This is because the opportunity to renew, refresh, and reimagine makes us who we are as people.
As we usher in 2022, let us celebrate our secular new year as well. Whether you’re a senior beginning your last semester of BBYO or an 8th grader beginning your journey, the birth of the new year marks a turning of the page for you. It’s an opportunity to get in the car with your friends and go to the project you’ve been putting off going to. It’s an opportunity to take the first step and meet someone new. It’s a new year and a new opportunity to help, to educate, and to give back to others after two years of trauma that our world has gone through.
This month is for you, this year is for you. I hope you find peace, calm, and enjoy everything this year has to offer.
Arlo Keller, BBYO NTO Region
Read commentary on this week's Parsha from BBYO teens around the world.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
This week's parashah – Vayeshev - depicts the family life of Jacob and his children, in particular focusing on the preferential treatment received by Joseph.
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