Parshat Bo: Coming to ego’s fantasies and illusions

Jewish oral tradition tells of Moses’ alleged fear of Pharaoh, and his reluctance to “come down” to the king of Egypt’s chambers. This version seems to contradict another that portrays Pharaoh as a whimsical midget trapped in his illusion of being a god, who was afraid of Moses’ above average height. Let’s take a look of both versions.

We usually fear what we are not able to overcome or defeat, so we either try to avoid it, fall under its dominion or control, or fight it to death even knowing that is undefeatable. Thus we understand Moses’ taking the first choice. If Pharaoh was indeed a dwarf, why a much taller and stronger Moses rather back off under our presumption that he had no apparent reason to avoid coming down to Pharaoh’s chambers?

We can infer then that Pharaoh had certain power or control that Moses feared, and our sages help us clarify this saying that Pharaoh represents the self-centered, egotistic approach to life triggered by the vital driving force we know as ego. Others simply point out that Pharaoh symbolizes ego, as well as the animals he elevated as gods such as the serpent, the beetle, the cat, the vulture, the crocodile, the ox and the lamb, representing negative traits and some of the lowest feelings, emotions, passions and instincts.

All these indeed can be gods as long as we give them the power to rule and dominate the qualities and expressions of consciousness our Creator wants us to direct and conduct under the rule of love’s ways and attributes, instead of ego’s fantasies and illusions. Thus we realize that Moses’ issue was not fear of ego itself as the vital driving force God infused in our consciousness, but the negative and destructive trends of ego’s fantasies and illusions. (See our previous commentaries in this blog on Parshat Bo, “Freedom from ego’s domains” of 01/01/2014, “From darkness to light” of 01/20/2015, and “Freedom as our destination” of 1/12/2016).

Hence God tells Moses not to go to Pharaoh, but to come to him to show him Who is the true ruler and destined regent not only of ego as our vital driving force, but also of all levels, aspects, dimensions and expressions of life. Our sages explain that Moses as the epitome of humbleness simply could not face, deal or relate to ego’s materialistic trends that are totally opposed to humbleness as the utmost quality of love’s ways and attributes.

Moses knew that he couldn’t come alone to face his opposite character, and God also knew it, therefore He asked Moses to come with Him to Pharaoh. Our oral tradition also tell us that Moses’ alleged difficulty to speak was only to Pharaoh and to those who were not close to Moses’ humbleness, for they could not understand the dynamics of love’s ways, as the premise to a complete freedom from a self-centered approach to life.

This is the freedom God promised to the children of Israel, and was achieved in full after ending their slavery under Pharaoh, leaving his land and his people, crossing the Sea of Reeds, receiving the Torah, and settling permanently in the Promised Land as the place where the Jewish people are destined to live by, with, in and for the goodness God wants us to make prevail in life and in this world.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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