Bo

The exodus from Egypt is chaotic. The rational order of things, slavery to Pharaoh, is finally being challenged. Pharaoh tempts Moses to limit his requests, tries to impose new rationality on the demand to serve God. Moses refuses. “Nothing will remain, for we do not know how to serve God until we arrive.” Nothing spiritual can take place in the empty void represented by Pharaoh and Egypt, yet the next step is filled with doubt and uncertainty. The only response to the slavery of the empty void is faith, to embrace ‘not-knowing’. If the correct approach to the divine was understandable, it would be pathetic. Moses takes the leap of faith. May we have the courage to do the same.

 

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[Inspired by: Exodus 10; Likutei Moharan 64 (my translation); Rabbi Raz Hartman on Parshat Bo 5776; and the disturbing sketch of a slave in the Khanate of Khiva, from this 1898 travel guide: I try to imagine his theology.]

 

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4 comments on “Bo

    • Think of people who treat prayer like a magic spell, who think that if they say the right words or act the right way, God will grant their wishes. It borders on blasphemy. If you can make God do your will, you’re more powerful than God. That kind of religious attitude is… pathetic.

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    • Yes, I think so. I would also use the word trust, or even intimacy, to describe the loose term ‘faith’. In the same way that any other intimate relationship can’t be rationalised and doesn’t conform to a system of rules, a spiritual connection starts with irrational trust.

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