"Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places"
This week's portion of Bo features the actual Exodus from Egypt. The climactic text is very familiar from Passover Seders and movies, but it is no less dramatic for its familiarity. Moses and Aaron warn Pharaoh that the final plague is coming. God tells the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts to protect themselves from the coming calamity. At midnight the Angel of Death visits the homes of every Egyptian, from the Pharaoh on his throne to the prisoner in the dungeon, and the firstborn male son of every household dies. Even the livestock lose their firstborn sons.
After long refusing freedom to the Israelites, after ten plagues and every underhanded manipulation he could invent, Pharaoh finally gives up. He literally throws the Israelites out of Egypt saying, "Go away from my people!"
There is an ironic twist at the end of this freedom narrative in Bo, even before the Pharaoh's fruitless quest to recapture the Israelites at the Sea ends badly for the Egyptians in next week's portion of B'Shalach. Pharaoh has already ordered Moses and Aaron to leave his land, but before they can go, when he says,
"Be gone! But bless me first."
This is a strange thing to say to your enemy, to whom you are now, essentially, surrendering-get out, now! But before you go, give me a blessing...