Parashat Bo // “Come” 

- י ר ת -

Can we accelerate our own salvation?

God smites all firstborns in Egypt; Israel is finally released

“Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.” Exodus 12:21 – 23

  • The Israelites are emancipated. They obtain their freedom only through greatness of spirit; they must earn their salvation through gratitude. When a person is arrogant, they cannot ascend spiritually. Modesty is a prerequisite for the spiritual journey leading toward revelation.

God strikes the Egyptian with a plague of darkness, casts light on the Israelites’ dwellings  

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: They saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings” Exodus 10:21 – 23

  • The plague of darkness is the ninth of ten plagues – with each plague worse than the previous one. This is important because of its spiritual significance. The wicked are in total darkness, whereas the righteous are illuminated. The wicked “could not see one another” (Exodus 10:23). Wicked people are oblivious to the needs of othersand hence their punishment is severe.
  • God envisions coexistence and cooperation between all human souls. Creativity and progress can only happen if we uphold these values. Nothing can be achieved without them. 

The Israelites’ great exodus from Egypt 

“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying…even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: This is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations” Exodus 12:41 – 42

  • God had promised Abraham that the Israelites would dwell in Egypt for 400 years. However, the Israelites’ exodus occurs 210 years after their arrival in Egypt. The reason for this disparity is that salvation can be accelerated – it all depends on the intensity of our efforts, yearning, and dedication. Salvation is a direct consequence of an individual’s behavior. Through our behavior, we can speed up salvation. 

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “Come” 

  • God calls Moses to come with Him to Pharaoh – who represents the epitome of darkness and ego. Moses walks along with the light. He is not alone. We must not be afraid to stand up against any wrongdoing, let go of our ego, and transform evil into good.
  • Our duty is to spread our share of God’s abundance and help disseminate His light. Sometimes, we do this actively – as givers. Other times, we are at the receiving end.
  • The purpose of life is to transcend our physical death. When the angel of death skips over us – just as he passes over the homes of the Israelites prior to their exodus – we become eternal.
  • Freedom can only be granted through gratitude and meekness. Humility is necessary for any spiritual ascent.  A person cannot be ready to receive infinite light if they are proud and indulge in fleeting pleasures. 
  • Solidarity, friendship, and cooperation are necessary for our spiritual ascent. We cannot make progress if we focus only on ourselves and do not pay attention to the needs of those around us.
  • Salvation can be accelerated. It all depends on our behavior, determination, and willingness to sacrifice.

Unselfishness is seeking to receive for the purpose of sharing; unlike selfishness, which is seeking to receive for our own benefit.