Many of our commentators suggest that this week's Torah portion, Parashat Bo, should actually be considered the very beginning of the Torah. That is because finally, after 400 years of servitude, after ten plagues, the Israelites are freed from Egypt. This transition marks the creation of the Israelites as a free people, and as a free nation. Additionally,in this week's reading, the Israelites are commanded their first mitzvah by God, to observe Rosh Chodesh, the festival of the new month. This particular new month, the month of Nisan, is actually considered by many (including the Torah) to be the first month of the Jewish year. It serves as the foundation for the Jewish Calendar which is the rhythm of Jewish life.
As compelling as these arguments may be, it doesn't change the fact that this week's Torah portion is not the beginning of the Torah. Parashat Bo falls smack in the middle of the second book of the five books of Moses, and I would like to suggest a reason as to why.
While this week's Torah portion may be the creation of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, the Torah felt that it was important to begin its story, and our story, with the creation of the world. That is because while the Torah may be the foundational book of Judaism many of the truths and values within it, and the wisdom that the Torah has, are universal and can speak to all of us, not just the Jewish people.
It is my hope and prayer for all of us, this Shabbat and beyond, that we can not only see the Torah as a book of faith and peoplehood, but that we can recognize that the Torah, our mitzvot, and our relationship with God transcends ourselves. May we embrace the morals, the values, the wisdoms, and teachings of the Torah, enhancing our own lives, and the world around us.