Parshat Bo: The freedom of goodness

“(…) and so that you recount in the ears of your son and of your son’s son, that which I have done in Egypt; and My signs which I have set among them, and that ye have known that I am the Lord’.” (Exodus 10:2)

We have mentioned often that in the Torah the Creator repeatedly presents Himself to the children of Israel as “the God who took you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery” to be their God.

This verse reiterates this fundamental statement also as a commandment to be remembered it every day by the Jews, so that we know that He is our God. This twice daily remembrance actually precedes the culminating moment of our prayer in which we stand before our Creator and Redeemer.

Remembering our transition from slavery to freedom is indeed a prerequisite and prelude to bond with Him. Thus we realize that in our detachment from ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions, represented by Pharaoh and his soldiers, we are rewarded with the freedom that only goodness can provide.

We have also said that being contextualized in the specific circumstances of slavery in Egypt has great significance. Our God is related to freedom and boldly against anything that denigrates and undermines human dignity, for freedom is the most dignifying quality of life.

God commands us to conceive Him as the One who took us out of slavery to be our God. Thus we understand that the foundation of freedom is goodness, for goodness is against any form of oppression, suppression, vexation or submission of the human spirit. Here we define the latter as the goodness that nurtures, sustains, protects and enhances life.

In this verse our Creator contrasts His ways and attributes to those of Egypt’s Pharaoh, for us to be aware of the distinction between the oppressive and destructive nature of negative trends and trends in consciousness, triggered by the egocentric approach to life that the ruler of Egypt represents.

“And Pharaoh’s servants said to him, ‘How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Don’t you know yet that Egypt is destroyed’?” (10:7)

The distinction we pointed out earlier is reiterated by the Egyptians’ acceptance of the fact that the children of Israel and their God are incompatible with their oppressors and their Pharaoh. Even more, both peoples are not destined to share the same principles and beliefs. In goodness, evil does not exists, and thus we realize that the latter is destructed before the former.

The destruction or elimination of evil is inherent in goodness. In this awareness we assimilate that the coexistence of good and evil is allowed for the purpose of perceiving and approaching evil only as a reference to choose goodness. The last two verses of this chapter leave it clear enough.

“And Pharaoh said to him, ‘Go from me, take heed to yourself, add not to see my face no more; for in the day you see my face, you die’. And Moses said, ‘You have spoken well, I add not anymore to see your face’.” (10:28-29)

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 Zefat.
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