Exodus 10:1 – 13:16

(Come On In!)
The story of the Exodus from Egypt continues.


THE BLESSING OF BO IS OUR FREEDOM. We finally take that first step out of the narrow spaces of Mitzrayim and become conscious journeyers touched by the dream of awakening.

Freedom in our tradition is not merely “freedom from,” freedom from oppression, suffering, or servitude. It is “freedom to,” freedom to be in direct relationship with God our liberator. Being in that relationship means serving the One, the Whole, the Holy. Our freedom depends on this servitude.

At the beginning of the portion God speaks to Moses, the prophet within us, and says, “Bo! Come on in! I am waiting for you inside the heart of Pharaoh. The heart of Pharaoh is inside you. It is the place that has grown heavy with the weight of life’s experience. It is the place that has hardened — its outer shell cynical, and its inner layers made of fear and unhealed grief. Through this heart of Pharaoh you must come if you are to know Me, if you are to find your freedom.”

THERE IS A STORY about some jealous angels who are asked to hide the spark of the Divine in the world.

“Let’s put it atop the highest mountain,” offers one.
“No,” says another, “The Human is very ambitious; he will find it there.”
“Well then, let’s bury it beneath the deepest sea.”
“That won’t work either,” another chimes in. “The Human is very resourceful. She will even find it there.”
After a moment’s thought the wisest angel says, “I know. Put it inside the Human heart. They will never look there.”

And so the spark of God is hidden in the heart of Pharaoh where we are kept out by the heaviness that has accumulated, by the hardness that we meant for our protection. Sometimes that spark will speak to us from within, and say, “Bo! Come on in. I have been waiting for you for so very long.”

WHEN WE COME THROUGH the heart of Pharaoh and enter in to those depths within, the blessing we receive is freedom and protection from the Angel of Death, whose only realm is the surface of things.

We are called into consciousness during a “night of watching,” a night of vigilance.

We are blessed with a ritual of celebration and renewal so that we can re-experience the miracle of freedom with a feast of Matzah, unleavened bread. Matzah represents our essential self before it is “leavened” with ego.


THIS WORLD IS FOREVER CALLING US to the surface of things with its drama, seduction, humor, and entertaining dilemmas. Constantly bombarded with stimulation, we begin to rely on that stimulation to keep us from boredom, and dreaded emptiness. The spiritual challenge of Bo lies in the cultivation of a rich inner life. The obstacles to inner-ness, and depth, are represented by the heart of Pharaoh, the obstruction through which we must pass on our way to freedom.

How do we address the weight of our burdens? How do we acknowledge the hard shell of a self-image that has become too small? There are moments when the burden is lifted, when the hard surface softens, and the heart of freedom is revealed in its glory. Even as those moments fade I lift them up with my awareness and my gratefulness. I keep the memory of that inner vastness and hold it as witness against a world that pretends to reflect the whole truth.

ONE OF THE KEYS to freedom lies in Moses’ insistence that the whole of the people must be freed together. When Pharaoh offers freedom if the feminine and child parts are left behind in bondage, Moses refuses, for he understands that to be free is to be whole and integrated. When Pharaoh offers freedom to the people if they will leave their animal selves behind, again Moses refuses, knowing that without the acknowledgment of all aspects of our selves, we cannot serve God.

The challenge before us is to accept and honor all parts of the self as the pre-requisite to freedom. In answering the call of Bo, we are led onto the path of healing and wholeness.


There are two practices for this week of Bo.

Softening the Heart Music Meditation

SET ASIDE SOME TIME ALONE to come through the Pharaoh-heart within you and dwell for a time in the space within.

CHOOSE A PIECE OF MUSIC of great beauty that you believe may have the power to lighten the heaviness of your heart and soften its hard surfaces. (Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony works for me.) Make sure that you will be undistracted and very comfortable.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN, LIGHT A CANDLE and dedicate this time to holiness and wholeness. Be aware of the places of cynicism in your heart or tension in the body and allow the music to gently penetrate those areas. Be aware of emotions that rise to the surface and allow them to be released.

USE THE BREATH to direct the power of the music into the places of heaviness and hardness.

AT THE END OF THE PIECE, SIT IN THE SILENCE and allow the music to reverberate through your body. Enter through whatever doors that have been opened and rest inside.

Blessing Pharaoh

When Pharaoh finally lets the people go, he asks for a blessing. Perhaps we will not be entirely free until we can find the blessing for the part of us that is the tyrant, for the part of us that oppresses the spirit and has kept us in slavery, chained to a familiar constricting habit. That blessing can only come from selfcompassion and self-forgiveness.

COMPOSE A BLESSING with which to bless the Pharaoh-within as you move from slavery to freedom.

Torah Journeys: The Inner Path to the Promised Land
©2006 Shefa Gold. All rights reserved.