• Rabbi Chaim Richman

Parashat Bo - The First Thought of the Day

In the Torah portion of Bo, the Egyptian exile comes to a close with the final three plagues and the sealing of the Egyptian’s fate. Two other major themes of this portion are the concepts of Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon, and the eternal covenant of the Passover offering in commemoration of the Exodus. I would like to now focus on one amazing idea. Chapter 13 begins, “And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, Sanctify to Me every firstborn…” 

Of course this is referring to the commandment that the firstborn are to retain a special, holy status, as connected with Hashem’s slaying of the Egyptian firstborn (13:15). 


However, if you open up your hearts in the deepest way, we can share another understanding of this verse, on a deeper symbolic level, as taught by the holy Baal Shem Tov. He always emphasized how important it is for a person to think pure and positive thoughts; how our thoughts have a great influence on us. “Think good, and it will be good,” the Chassidic saying goes. Some people say ‘you are what you eat,’ but we believe that truly ‘you are what you think.’ If we think good, grateful, positive thoughts, then we bring down positivity upon ourselves. The opposite is also true – we can fill our lives with negativity if that is where our thoughts lie. The holy Baal Shem Tov taught that all this is especially true concerning the very first thought of the day, the ‘firstborn thought,’ the thought we hold when we first wake up in the morning before we even get out of bed and start our day.


Thus he taught: “Sanctify to Me every firstborn” alludes to the first thought of the day! The firstborn thought. He said that when we sanctify that first thought of the day to Hashem, with gratitude for waking up and a hopeful prayer that the day will bring good things, then that is how the entire day will follow…because ‘we are what we think’ and the day will follow after the first thought. So when we wake up in the morning, perhaps cranky, perhaps cold and tired and apprehensive about what we have to do today, perhaps not wanting to get out of bed, and the first thing we think to ourselves is “!@#*#!, another !@#*! day!” , we can’t expect to have such a good day. But when we wake up and say ‘Thank You Hashem for another day! You still believe in me and are giving me another day! – that is what it means to sanctify the firstborn thought for Hashem. 

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