As a narrative, this week’s Torah portion, Bo, discusses the last three plagues visited upon the Egyptians: locusts, darkness, and the slaying of the first-born son. It covers the beginning of the Exodus as well as ritual preparation for and customary remembrance of the Exodus.
Thematically, this parashah deals with God’s omnipotence, leadership, remembrance and institutionalized memory.
The text reads:
You shall observe this (the Passover ritual) as an institution for all time, for you and for your descendants. And when you enter the land that Adonai will give you, as promised, you shall observe this rite. When your children ask you, “What do you mean by this rite?” you shall say, it is the Passover sacrifice to Adonai, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when smiting the Egyptians… (Bo 12:24-27).
It is here that we, as Jews, are instructed to celebrate Passover and to instruct our children, from generation to generation, l’dor vador, through ritual and with explanation. Literally, this pertains to keeping the memory of the Exodus alive, while this symbolically refers to remembering and teaching about all Jewish institutionalized memories—all exoduses, expulsions, annihilations, and holocausts in order to maintain our heritage and Judaism.