web analytics
September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

Selichot

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

However remote the prospect of acquittal, a Jew must never give up. God commands us to challenge indictment with prayer. And the rabbis urge us to confront sentencing with hunger strikes. And so, the Midrash tells us, when Moses stood before God, at a loss for words with which to defend the sin of the golden calf, God Himself donned a tallit, took to the prayer stand, and showed Moses how to pray and what to say:

“And God passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, [His Thirteen Attributes]: The Lord, The Lord, mighty, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in love and truth; He remembers deeds of love for thousands of generations, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; He does not forgive those who do not repent…”

The Midrash continues, “that day, God covenanted with Moses that whenever and whatever their sin, Israel will always be forgiven if they recite the Thirteen Attributes.

Accordingly, religious leaders in the past would combine the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with ten days of fasting and prayers for forgiveness. However, because, fasting is prohibited on four out of the Ten Days of Repentance – namely, the two days of Rosh Hashanah, Shabbat Shuvah and Erev Yom Kippur – they would begin to fast and to recite Selichot four days before Rosh Hashanah.

These four days of fasting and prayer are known as the “Days of Selichot.” When Rosh Hashanah occurs on a Wednesday and Thursday, Selichot begin on the Sunday of the same week. When Rosh Hashanah occurs before Wednesday, Selichot begin on the Sunday of the week preceding the week of Rosh Hashanah.

Today, few people fast during the Days of Selichot, but the custom is to rise early to recite Selichot. Another reason for observing the Days of Selichot is that a person’s status before Rosh Hashanah is compared to that of a sacrifice about to be offered up in the Bet HaMikdash. Four days prior to its offering, each sacrifice underwent close examination to ensure the absence of any blemishes that would disqualify it for sacrifice. We, too, should examine ourselves during the four Selichot days for any defects that would render us unacceptable to God on the Day of Judgment.

In addition to the Thirteen Attributes, there are seven categories of Selichot prayers. These are: introductory prayers called petichot, prayers in the form of refrains called pizmonim, two-stanza prayers called sheniyot, three-stanza prayers called shelishiyot, four-stanza prayers called shalmoniyot, prayers recalling the binding of Isaac called akeida, and prayers for grace called techinot. Many of the Selichot prayers contain verses or phrases culled from the following scriptures: Exodus 32:11 and 34:9; Numbers 14:13-19; Psalms 25:11; 1 Kings; 8:36; Amos 7:2; Daniel 9:4-9 and Nehemiah 9:31-37

According to one opinion in the Talmud, at midnight God rises from His seat of judgment and occupies the seat of mercy from which He sustains the world. Midnight, therefore, according to this opinion, is the best time for Selichot. According to another opinion, God rides His Chariot through our world during the last three hours of the night. According to this opinion, the best time for Selichot is the last three hours before dawn. If one rises before dawn, he should recite Birchat HaTorah before reciting Selichot and the chazzan should wear a tallit without reciting the tallit blessing. Selichot may be said after daybreak. Selichot written in Hebrew may be recited by an individual in the absence of a minyan, but Selichot written in Aramaic may not. The Thirteen Attributes may not be recited in the absence of a minyan, but they may be read in the absence of a minyan with the tune used by a ba’al koreh when reading the Torah in public.

The Tur points out that a person on trial for an offense carrying capital punishment would don dark clothes and be in a general state of mourning. We, on the other hand, are so confident of God’s mercy that we wear white and festive clothes and celebrate the Day of Judgment.

Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.

Raphael Grunfeld

Depending On A Wise Sister

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

It is a scene that still has the power to shock and disturb. The people complain. There is no water. It is an old complaint and a predictable one. That’s what happens in a desert. Moses should have been able to handle it in his stride. He has been through far tougher challenges in his time. Yet suddenly he explodes into vituperative anger:

“Listen now, you rebels, shall we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. (Numbers 20: 10-11).

It was such egregious behavior, so much of an overreaction, that the commentators had difficulty in deciding which aspect was worst. Some said it was hitting the rock instead of speaking to it as God had instructed. Some said it was the use of the word “we.” Moses knew that God would send water; it had nothing to do with Aaron or with Moses himself. Others, most famously Maimonides, said that it was the anger evident in the words “Listen now, you rebels.”

The questions I want to raise are simply these: What made this trial different? Why did Moses momentarily lose control? Why then? Why there? These questions are entirely separate from that of why Moses was not allowed to enter the land. Although the Torah associates the two, I argue elsewhere that this was not a punishment at all. Moses did not lead the people across the Jordan and into the land because that task, involving a new generation and an entirely new set of challenges, demanded a new leader. Even the greatest figures in history belong to a specific time and place. “Dor dor u’parnasav – Each generation has its own leaders” (Avodah Zarah 5a). Leadership is time-bound, not timeless.

Behind Moses’s loss of emotional control is a different story, told with utmost brevity in the text: “In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There, Miriam died and was buried. Now there was no water for the community…” Moses lost control because his sister Miriam had just died. He was in mourning for his eldest sibling. It is hard to lose a parent, but in some ways it is even harder to lose a brother or sister. They are your generation. You feel the angel of death come suddenly close. You face your own mortality.

But Miriam was more than a sister to Moses. She was the one, while still a six-year-old child, to follow the course of the wicker basket holding her baby brother as it drifted down the Nile. She had the courage and ingenuity to approach Pharaoh’s daughter and suggest that she employ a Hebrew nurse for the child, thus ensuring that Moses would grow up knowing his family, his people and his identity.

Small wonder that the Sages said that Miriam persuaded her father Amram, the gadol hador (leading scholar of his generation), to annul his decree that Hebrew husbands should divorce their wives and have no more children since there was a fifty percent chance that any child born would be killed. “Your decree,” said Miriam, “is worse than Pharaoh’s. He only decreed against the males, yours applies to females also. He intends to rob children of life in this world; you would deny them even life in the World to Come” (Midrash Lekach Tov to Exodus 2:1). Amram admitted her superior logic. Husbands and wives were reunited. Yocheved became pregnant and Moses was born. Note simply that this midrash, told by the Sages, unambiguously implies that a six-year-old girl had more faith and wisdom than the leading rabbi of the generation!

Moses surely knew what he owed his elder sister. She had accompanied him throughout his mission. She led the women in song at the Red Sea. The one episode that seems to cast her in a negative light – when she “spoke against Moses because of his Cushite wife,” for which she was punished with leprosy – was interpreted more positively by the Sages. They said she was critical of Moses for breaking off marital relations with his wife Zipporah. He had done so because he needed to be in a state of readiness for Divine communication at any time. Miriam felt Zipporah’s plight and sense of abandonment. Besides which, she and Aaron had also received Divine communication but they had not been commanded to be celibate. She may have been wrong, suggested the Sages, but not maliciously so. She spoke not out of jealousy of her brother but out of sympathy for her sister-in-law.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Parshah Behaalotecha: Moses and the Challenge of Adaptive Leadership

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

In this week’s parshah, Moses has a breakdown. It is the lowest emotional ebb of his entire career as a leader. Listen to his words to God:

“Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? … I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me – if I have found favor in your eyes – and do not let me face my own ruin” (Numbers 11:11-15).

Yet the cause seems utterly disproportionate to its effect. The people have done what they so often did before. They complain. They say, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11: 5)

Many times before, Moses had faced this kind of complaint from the people. There are several such instances in the book of Exodus, including a very similar one:

“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3).

On these earlier occasions Moses did not give expression to the kind of despair he speaks of here. Usually, when leaders faced repeated challenges, they grow stronger each time. They learn how to respond, how to cope. They develop resilience, a thick skin. They formulate survival strategies. Why then does Moses seem to do the opposite, not only here but often throughout the book of Numbers?

In the chapters that follow, Moses seems to lack the unshakable determination he had in Exodus. At times, as in the episode of the spies, he seems surprisingly passive, leaving it to others to fight the battle. At others, he seems to lose control and becomes angry, something a leader should not do. Something has changed, but what? Why the breakdown, the burnout, the despair?

A fascinating insight is provided by Professor Ronald Heifetz of Harvard University.

Heifetz distinguishes between technical challenges and adaptive challenges. A technical challenge is one where you have a problem and someone else has the solution. You are ill, you go to the doctor, and he diagnoses your condition and prescribes a pill. All you have to do is follow the instructions.

Adaptive challenges are different. They arise when we are part of the problem. You are ill, you go to the doctor, and he tells you that he can give you a pill – but you are going to have to change your lifestyle. You are overweight, out of condition, sleep too little, and are exposed to too much stress. Pills won’t help you until you change the way you live.

Adaptive leadership is called for when the world is changing, circumstances are no longer what they were, and what once worked works no more. There is no quick fix, no pill, no simple following of instructions. We have to change. The leader cannot do it for us.

The fundamental difference between the books of Exodus and Numbers is that in Exodus, Moses is called on to exercise technical leadership. The Israelites are enslaved? God sends signs and wonders, ten plagues, and the Israelites go free. They need to escape from Pharaoh’s chariots? Moses lifts his staff and God divides the sea. They are hungry? God sends manna from heaven. Thirsty? God sends water from a rock. When they have a problem, the leader, Moses – together with God – provides the solution. The people do not have to exert themselves at all.

In the book of Numbers, however, the equation has changed. The Israelites have completed the first part of their journey. They have left Egypt, reached Sinai, and made a covenant with God. Now they are on their way to the Promised Land. Moses’s role is now different. Instead of providing technical leadership, he has to provide adaptive leadership. He has to get the people to change, to exercise responsibility, to learn to do things for themselves while trusting in God instead of relying on God to do things for them.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Q & A: Harsh Punishments (Part III)

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Question: I find it very difficult to understand the punishment of death that was meted out to Rabbi Akiba’s students. If he was so great, we can assume that his students were of a superior caliber as well. If so, why did they deserve such a harsh punishment?

Zelig Aronson
Queens, NY

Answer: We began our discussion by citing the prohibition of marrying or cutting our hair for a minimum period of 34 days between Pesach and Shavuot. We observe these signs of mourning to commemorate the thousands of Rabbi Akiba’s students who died during this period.

We sought to explain the reason these students deserved such a harsh punishment. We cited a similar story concerning the Nadav and Avihu, whose hasty actions led to their fatal transgression of issuing a ruling before their master Moses, for which they were killed. Hashem is very exacting with those closest to Him. Thus, Rabbi Akiba’s students were punished even though their sin may have been minor.

* * * * *

My mashgiach ruchani, HaRav Hersh Feldman, zt”l (the Mirrer Mashgiach), delivered a “schmooze” many years ago (see “Yemei Hasefira” in his Tiferet Tzvi p. 197) on the death of Rabbi Akiba’s students.

Rabbi Feldman begins: “Other than the ctual prohibition as well as the gravity of the punishment and the tum’ah, the ritual impurity that is visited upon a person due to his haughtiness, we see that the traits of modesty and humility assist one in the acquisition of Torah knowledge.

“Our Sages (Ta’anit 7a) expound the verse (Isaiah 55:1), ‘Hoy kol tzamei lechu lamayyim… – Ho! Everyone who is thirsty, go to the water…’ The ‘water’ here is the Torah, for which we thirst. Our sages ask, ‘Why is the Torah compared to water?’ Just as water flows from an elevated place and settles in a lower place, so do the words of Torah exist only in an individual whose understanding [and very being] is humble.”

Rabbi Feldman continues by citing the Gemara in Eruvin (13b): “For three years there was a dispute between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. These said, ‘The halacha is in agreement with our views,’ and those asserted, ‘The halacha is in agreement with our views.’ A Heavenly voice went forth and proclaimed, ‘Both are the words of the living G-d, but the halacha is in agreement with Beit Hillel.’

“The Gemara asks, ‘Now, since both are the words of the living G-d, what entitled Beit Hillel to have the halacha in agreement with their rulings?’ [This is the general rule; there are exceptions. In 18 circumstances the halacha is actually in accord with Beit Shammai – see Shabbos 13b and 17b; see also Rambam, Perush HaMishnayot on Yevamot Ch. 3, stating that when Beit Hillel rule stringently and Beit Shammai are lenient, the halacha generally follows the latter.] The Gemara answers: Because Beit Hillel were easygoing and very humble, and they would study their views and the views of Beit Shammai, and more so, they would always mention the views of Beit Shammai before theirs….”

Rabbi Feldman asks: “Since Beit Hillel were more easygoing and modest than Beit Shammai, is that [sufficient] reason to set forth the halacha in accord with them?

“We must explain: For one to hear and understand his fellow’s view and follow the logic of his reasoning to its natural conclusion, one must be graced with refined traits. One must not bear enmity to one’s fellow, nor be jealous of him, nor be contemptuous of him, which would be the result of boastfulness or haughtiness. A person who is conceited and haughty will not expend any effort to come to an understanding of his fellow’s view. Why? Obviously he considers his fellow’s view to be insignificant. It is surely not worth his while to exert any effort at understanding it. With such an approach he will never be able to comprehend his fellow’s view with any clarity.”

Rabbi Feldman continues: “Beit Hillel, however, who were easygoing and modest, traits that emanate from humility, expended great effort and toiled at understanding the views of their fellows [Beit Shammai] and to give them credit. This they did without any trace of negative personal motives. They would treat the views of their fellows deferentially, with the greatest respect, so that they would understand their decisions.

“More so, they would repeatedly study their views… They would even cite those [Beit Shammai’s] views before their own. If, after all that, they reached the conclusion that Beit Shammai’s view was incorrect and the halacha should not be as Beit Shammai established, then it was clear that the halacha should indeed follow Beit Hillel.

“This was so because weighing, deciding and understanding the matters in question was arrived at after clear analysis, without any preconceived personal notions.”

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Q & A: Harsh Punishments (Part II)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Question: I find it very difficult to understand the punishment of death that was meted out to Rabbi Akiba’s students. If he was so great, we can assume that his students were of a superior caliber as well. If so, why did they deserve such a harsh punishment?

Zelig Aronson
Queens, NY

Answer: Last week we discussed the prohibition of not marrying or cutting our hair for a minimum period of 34 days between Pesach and Shavuot. We observe these signs of mourning to commemorate the thousands of Rabbi Akiba’s students who died during this period.

We also sought to explain the reason these students deserved such a harsh punishment. We cited a similar story concerning the Nadav and Avihu, whose hasty actions led to their fatal transgression of issuing a ruling before their master Moses, for which they were killed.

* * * * *

The Rambam (Hilchot Talmud Torah 5:2), based upon the Gemara in Eruvin 63a, rules that a person who issues a halachic decision before his master is punished with death (by Heaven’s hand). The Hagahot Maimoniyot (ad loc.) cites exceptions to this rule. For instance, a person may issue a ruling before his master if he sees the ruling clearly recorded in books written by great halachic authorities.

Moses, in his humility, obviously saw no slight to his person when his students, Aaron’s sons, issued their halachic ruling, but he was aware of their infraction. He sought to console his brother on his tragic loss, stating that the untimely death of those who are nearest and dearest to Hashem serves as a means of His sanctification.

Nadav and Avihu and the students of Rabbi Akiba were so great that, like other tzaddikim, they were judged in a very exacting and demanding manner – “kechut hasa’ara – like a fine strand of hair.”

We find the following incident in the Talmud (Yevamot 121b): It once happened that the daughter of Nehonia the well digger (he would dig water wells for the benefit of those traveling on the roads and byways) fell into a large cistern, and people reported this to R. Hanina b. Dosa. During the first hour R. Hanina told them, “All is well.” In the second hour he again said, “All is well.” At the third hour he told them, “She is saved.”

R. Hanina then asked her, “My daughter, who saved you?” She replied, “A ram came to my aid with an aged man leading it.” (Rashi notes that this was our Patriarch Abraham.) The people observing this incident asked R. Hanina b. Dosa, “Are you a prophet?” He replied, “I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but this I do know: Should the work in which a righteous man is engaged (for the benefit of others) be the cause of disaster for his offspring?”

The Gemara continues: R. Abba stated, “Even so, his [Nehonia’s] son died of thirst. The verse (Psalms 50:3) states, ‘u’sevivav nis’ara me’od – His surroundings are exceedingly turbulent.’ ” This teaches us that Hashem deals with those near Him even to “a hair’s breadth,” i.e., very strictly. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the word “nis’ara – turbulent” in this verse can also be read as “sa’ara – hair.”

The Maharsha (ad loc.) notes: If this is the manner in which Hashem treats those nearest and dearest to Him, how much stricter will He deal with the wicked.

The students of Rabbi Akiba were so great and close to Hashem that they were punished for even the slightest infraction.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Prominent Turkish Muslim Leader Sends Passover Blessings to the Jewish Nation

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Adnan Oktar (also known by his pen name Harun Yahya), a prominent Turkish intellectual and religious leader with a mass following, has communicated and met personally over the past decade with many Orthodox rabbis from Israel and abroad, expressing his friendship to the Jewish nation and his reverence to the Torah.

Oktar has sent via the Jewish Press his blessing to the Jewish nation on the occasion of Passover:

While we remember the Prophet Moses’, peace be upon him, exodus from the oppression of the Pharaoh, and God’s help during this amazing journey, we pray for the blessings of God upon all His servants. May God send His Mashiach soon, and bring the days that we can altogether make Korban (sacrifice) in peace and joy in the Holy Land.

[God said:] And remember, We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh: They set you hard tasks and punishments, slaughtered your sons and let your women-folk live; therein was a tremendous trial from your Lord.

And remember We divided the sea for you and saved you and drowned Pharaoh’s people within your very sight. And remember We appointed forty nights for Moses, and in his absence you took the calf (for worship), and you did grievous wrong. Even then We did forgive you; there was a chance for you to be grateful. And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (Between right and wrong): There was a chance for you to be guided aright. (Quran, 2:49-53)

Back in 2009, I conducted a short interview with Adnan Oktar over the email, which I will bring here. It is important to note that while our relations with official Turkey are at an unprecedented low, there are prominent, religious Muslim voices inside Turkey, which offer friendship and empathy to the Jews and to the Jewish state.

Yanover: First, may I congratulate you on your vision for peace in the Middle East and, indeed, the world, and on your staunch campaign to promote the values of Monotheism. A religious Jew, I am touched when I encounter reason and compassion among the nations, and your life’s work gives me hope for the future of humanity.

How pragmatic is your vision for a united Turkish-Islamic Near-East? Do you see it as coming to pass under the rule of a Divine redeemer, or is it a plan to be accomplished by people in this pre-Messianic reality? If it is the latter, you must be aware of the obstacles in many Muslim states to the development of democratic institutions and efficient, corruption-free state bureaucracies. How would you overcome these difficulties?

Adnan Oktar: Every day, important and positive developments regarding the formation of the Turkish-Islamic Union are taking place, although the real establishment of this union will take place under the leadership of Hazrat Mahdi, peace be upon him (the Muslim version of the Redeemer – YY). According to the information handed down from the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, Hazrat Mahdi, peace be upon him, will unite the fragmented Turkic and Islamic states and establish a great and powerful union.

Under his leadership, the Turkish-Islamic Union will be a union of love and friendship. Every state will preserve its own constitutional structure, but there will be full cooperation in defense, trade, science, art, love and brotherhood, as well as the beauty and abundance brought about by that cooperation. Hazrat Mahdi, pbuh, will be instrumental in the Turkish-Islamic world delighting in love, depth, compassion, peacefulness, art and beauty, and in scaling the peaks of modernity and nobility. And the devotion and love felt for Hazrat Mahdi, pbuh, will be instrumental in all disputes being resolved in a matter of minutes. As a requirement of the moral values of the Qur’an, the Turkish-Islamic Union will be one that attaches great importance to democracy, laicism and freedom of ideas, and these values will acquire increasing importance in all the states affiliated to the union.

Things that seem to be obstacles on the path to the establishment of the Turkish-Islamic Union are unimportant. The coming of Hazrat Mahdi (pbuh), the unification of the Turkish-Islamic world, the spread of moral virtues and the glory of Allah being praised everywhere is Allah’s promise. It will certainly be made good. Allah’s promise is true and Allah does not break His promise.

Yanover: Your love for all monotheistic people is clear and admirable. But while Jews are devoid of a directive to convert others to our faith, the very foundation of most Christian denominations is the command to bring others into theirs. Is it possible for God-loving men to live in peace with a large Christian element fomenting such aggressive intentions? Would it not spell constant tension and unrest within the community of God?

Adnan Oktar: It is natural for members of all faiths to think their beliefs are true and to defend them. Jews, Muslims and Christians have a perfect right to defend and tell others of their beliefs. However, it is of course unacceptable to try to force anyone to be a Christian or compel anyone to be a Muslim. Such a thing has no place in Islam. In verse 256 of Surat al-Baqara, Allah reveals, “There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned.”

Yori Yanover

Yoram Ettinger: Passover – An Inalienable American Value

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

http://www.theettingerreport.com/OpEd/OpEd—Israel-Hayom/Passover-%E2%80%93-An-Inalienable-American-Value.aspx

 

Passover, and especially the legacy of Moses and the Exodus, has been part of the American story since the seventeenth century, inspiring the American pursuit of liberty, justice, and morality.

The special role played by Passover – and the Bible – in shaping the American state of mind constitutes the foundation of the unique relations between the American people and the Jewish state. As important as the current mutual threats and interests between the US and Israel are, the bedrock of the unbreakable US-Israel alliance are entrenched values, principles and legacies, such as Passover.

In 1620 and 1630, William Bradford and John Winthrop delivered sermons on the Mayflower and Arbella, referring to the deliverance from “modern day Egypt and Pharaoh,” to “the crossing of the modern day Red Sea” and to New Zion/Canaan as the destination of the Pilgrims on board.

In 1776, Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense (which cemented public support for the revolution), referred to King George as the “hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh.” Upon declaration of independence, Benjamin Franklin (the most secular Founding Father), John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, the second third American Presidents respectively, proposed a Passover theme for the official US seal: the Pillar of Fire leading Moses and the Israelites through the Red Sea, while Pharaoh’s chariots drown in the Sea. The inscription on the seal was supposed to be: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God,” framing the rebellion against the British monarchy as principle-driven. The lessons of the Jewish deliverance from Egyptian bondage reverberated thunderously among the Rebels, who considered the thirteen colonies to be “the modern day Twelve Tribes.”

The 19th century Abolitionists, and the Civil Rights movement from the 1940s to the 1970s, were inspired by the ethos of the Exodus and by the Bible’s opposition to slavery. In the 1830s, the Liberty Bell, an icon of American independence, was adopted by the Abolitionists, due to its Exodus-inspired inscription: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), and her husband, Calvin Ellis Stowe (“The Little Rabbi”) were scholars of the Bible and the Exodus. Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery in 1849 and freed Black slaves on the Underground Railroad, earned the name “Moses.” The 1879/80 Black slaves who ran away to Kansas were called “the Exodusters.” The most famous spiritual, “Go Down, Moses” was considered the unofficial national anthem of Black slaves.

In 1865, following the murder of President Lincoln, most eulogies compared him to Moses. Just like Moses, Lincoln liberated slaves, but was stopped short of the Promised Land.France paid tribute to the martyred Lincoln by erecting the Statue of Liberty, featuring rays of sun and a tablet, just like the glaring Moses descending from Mount Sinai with the Two Tablets of the Ten Commandments.

In 1954, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. compared the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision to desegregate public schools to the parting of the Red Sea. In 1964, upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King proclaimed: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself. The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go.’”

President Reagan mentioned (Reagan at Westminster, 2010) Exodus as the first incident in a long line of Western resistance to tyranny: “Since the exodus from Egypt, historians have written of those who sacrificed and struggled for freedom – the stand at Thermopylae, the revolt of Spartacus, the storming of the Bastille, the Warsaw uprising in World War II.”

In July, 2003, President Bush stated, in Senegal, that “in America, enslaved Africans learned the story of the exodus from Egypt, and set their own hearts on a promised land of freedom.”

In March, 2007, Senator Obama said in Selma, Alabama that the civil rights pioneers were the “Moses generation” and he was part of the “Joshua generation” that would “find our way across the river.”

And today, in 2012, a statue of Moses stares at the Speaker of the House, another towers above the seats of the Supreme Court Justices, a Ten Commandment monument sits on the ground of the Texas State Capitol, and a similar monument will be shortly erected on the ground of the Oklahoma State Capitol.

In 2012, the leader of the Free World and its sole soul ally in the Mid-East, Israel, are facing the most lethal threat to liberty since 1945 – conventional and non-conventional Islamic terrorism. Adherence to the legacy of Passover, marshaling the conviction-driven leadership of Moses, and demonstrating Joshua and Caleb’s courage and defiance of odds, will once again facilitate the victory of liberty over tyranny.

Yoram Ettinger

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/yoram-ettinger-passover-an-inalienable-american-value/2012/04/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: