In Parshat Bo, the last three of the ten plagues in Egypt are unleashed upon the Egyptian people: locusts, darkness, and death of the first born. After the death of his own first born, Pharaoh finally—and forcefully—permits the Israelites to leave Egypt.
One lesson that can be taken from this portion, a lesson which Pharaoh could have benefited from is caring about the greater good instead of oneself. The entire Egyptian people faced the terrors of the ten plagues, all because the Pharaoh refused to free the Israelites because he benefited from their forced labor. Pharaoh was warned of the plagues that would occur if he did not do what G-d asked of him, yet he still held the Israelites captive.
In a time with so many issues in America and the planet as a whole, it is our duty to think about the greater good, and not just ourselves. Maybe you can start riding a bike instead of driving everywhere. Maybe you can support local small businesses, even though there may be a McDonald's next door. There are countless actions that each and every one of us can do to help our planet and its environment, because small changes can make a difference. We are living in a climate crisis and pandemic which have each affected so many lives out of the 7.8 billion of us who call this planet home, so it is up to each of us to do our part to eventually overcome these problems.
While these changes may seem relatively small, they are steering us away from the possibility of our own “plagues.” Pharaoh was given the opportunity to free the Israelites, just as we are given the opportunities to do what is right to save the environment and the people of our local neighborhoods and the world. He ignored the opportunity, and we all know the wreckage that happened next to his people. So much damage, so many lives lost, just because he made a selfish decision instead of doing what was right for everyone. While each action we can take seems small, they add up, and they can steer us in the right direction as a population. It is our duty as Jewish people, and as human beings to make choices for the betterment of everyone, not just ourselves.
Ilana Talamo and Jack Elice
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.
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