Parshat Shemot: The awareness of God’s love

“And these are the names (shemot) of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt (…)” (Exodus 1:1).

Our sages teach that one counts and names each thing that is precious to him, and Israel is indeed as precious as a son to his father, as it is written: “So said the Lord, ‘My firstborn son is Israel’.” (4:22).

The Hebrew scriptures tell us about the love of God for Israel and all His creation, but have we considered our love for Him? We don’t pretend to define with a human consciousness our Creator, but to approach with our human traits His love that creates and sustains us, and all His creation. If Creation certainly emanates from God’s love, we conceive and understand love as the means to relate and communicate with Him.

We frequently mention the thirteen attributes of God’s compassion (34:6-7) as specific references for us to relate to our Creator through human consciousness. Ultimately it is our individual choice to conceive Him, and approach Him either as a loving and compassionate Creator or else. Common sense plainly demonstrates the former. Every chapter of the Torah and every assessment of our sages illustrate and reiterate this truth. The book of Exodus is clearly the living proof of God’s love for Israel.

“Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying: ‘Every son that is born you shall cast into the river’.” (1:22)


Our mystic sages explain that every male child born both from Israelites and Egyptians were subject to this decree, and point out that the river (Nile) represents the materialistic lifestyle derived from ego’s negative desires and fantasies.

Pharaoh (the egocentric approach to material life) wanted every trait and aspect of human consciousness submerged (put to death) into the waters of materialism, and becoming virtually dead to the upper waters of higher consciousness represented by love’s ways and attributes. From this passage we learn that without a rest from the the material world (a time and place called the Shabbat), life is meaningless. Without our awareness of the Creator, everything seems meaningless.

In this crucial moment of human development, a key trait of consciousness needs to be born in order to guide its remaining aspects. This is what we refer as the highest awareness of the Creator in our consciousness, the awareness of His goodness, as we conceive it in our limited human understanding. This awareness is represented by Moses:

“And she [Moses’ mother] saw him that he was good.” (2:2).

This is also the awareness of Love that reaches out to all Creation, and particularly to our brethren:

“He [Moses] went out to his brothers, and looked on their suffering” (2:11).

This ordeal is not only the result of living under the duress of gross materialism but the division and separation we suffer in our exile from God’s love.

Division, strife, quarreling, violence and hatred are illusions that trap us in the darkness of the absence of love.

“And Moses feared, and said: ‘Indeed, the thing is known‘.” (2:14).

Our sages say that Moses saw that gossiping and tale bearing were obstacles for the children of Israel’s redemption from slavery, and he concluded that those were the “known causes of their bondage.

“(…) the king of Egypt died, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry ascended to God by reason of the bondage.” (2:23).

Mystic Sages explain that Pharaoh was dead to the awareness of God and His eternal rule over His creation. In the darkness of this spiritual death our cry certainly reaches up to Him.

Rashi complements this fact when he questions why God appeared to Moses in a thorn bush and not in a different tree. He answers that it was in order to illustrate and demonstrate that, “In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and compassion He redeemed them, He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9).

God’s love is certainly the fire that is never consumed: “The bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” (Exodus 3:2).

“And Moses said to God: ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?’ And He said: ‘I will be with you, and this is your sign [humility] that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt (after their attachment to lower consciousness), they shall serve God upon this mountain (the highest awareness of God, also the Temple of Jerusalem)’.” (3:11-12).

God’d love redeems us from the darkness of ego’s materialism and the negative trends in consciousness:

“This is My Name forever, and this is how I should be mentioned in every generation.” (3:15).

The One that was, is, and will be forever.

“And God said to Aaron: ‘Go to the wilderness to meet Moses’. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.” (4:27).

The mount of God is our highest awareness of His love, where both loving kindness (Aaron) and righteousness (Moses) kiss, as recalled by king David:

“Loving kindness and truth are met together; justice and peace have kissed.” (Psalms 85:11).

Truth and justice are inherent to each other (Moses), and so too love and peace (Aaron).

“And Pharaoh said: ‘Who is the Lord that I should hearken to His voice to let Israel go’? I know not the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go’.” (5:2).

Ego pretends to direct our existence as a separate, independent entity in order to control all aspects of consciousness (the children of Israel). In this illusory separation, ego disregards love as the all-encompassing and integrating force in Creation.

Ego creates its own individual “separated” reality based on desires derived from negative thoughts and misconceptions rooted in a sense of lack. This lack is the result of the illusory absence of Love in any of the aspects and dimensions of intellect, mind, emotions, feelings, passions, and instincts.

Lack of food and the essential resources to fulfill our basic material needs (body needs related to instincts), lack of an object for our desires and carnal urges (passions), lack of recognition and fulfillment of our feelings and emotions in our relationship with our surroundings, lack of interest and concern based on lack of knowledge in our mind and intellect, all these lacks are triggers for ego’s frustration and consequent engagement in negative behavior and actions that darken and enslave our awareness in the lowest levels of existence.

In this predicament, ego does not know or recognize anything different than its own image, including rejecting love as the redeemer from its lack, either be real or illusory.

The portion ends with this verse:

“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, because by a strong hand shall he let them go, and by a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land’.” (6:1).

God’s love creates and sustains everything, and also transforms our consciousness in order for us to recognize Him as our Creator.

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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