Day Thirty One — Wednesday

Kneeler 88

Exodus 8

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Rise early, in the morning and present yourself before Pharoah, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, 'Thus says the Lord: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.

21 For if you will not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you, your officials, and your people, and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies; so also the land where they live.

22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people live, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, so that you may know that I the Lord am in this land.

23 Thus I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign shall appear tomorrow.'"

from Zornberg again, p. 100, following from day twenty nine.

Pharoah constructs himself as a god, without needs. …he takes in nothing and evacuates nothing. He neither eats nor eliminates waste matter. That cycle, depending on a vital traffic through the orifices of the body, is denied by one who claims to be above change, beyond the cycles of in and out, hunger and fullness, the vicissitudes of time and bodily state.

What Pharoah denies is the unbearable lightness of being: the meaningless movement of fluids and solids that marks human life. Kundera's word "lightness" is the word the midrash uses to describe Pharaoh's condition: in the moment of defecation, he stands inkalon, in shame, whose root is "lightness". This is the moment of "neediness," that he must hide at all costs: for to recognize one's lightness is to experience a radical and unbearable shame. To acknowledge the apertures in one's body — the openings and natural physical process — is to surrender the claim to immortality. … Pharoah's response to such a surrender is to make himself askaved, as heavy, dense, significant, and impregnable as possible: in fact, to make himself a god.

Avivah Zornberg 2001The Particulars of Rapture: Reflections on Exodus Image/Doubleday New York

St Philip's Anglican Church,
cnr Moorhouse and Macpherson Streets, O'Connor, ACT 2602.