Moses was screwed! There is no other way to put it.
At sundown on Friday, Jews all across the world will begin the celebration of Passover. Outside of Israel, the first two days of the holiday begin with a Seder (Jewish holidays begin in the evening). The Seder is a family ritual based on the Biblical verse commanding:
“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:8)
Notice it says what the Lord did for me? Because of that line God gets all the credit (which he deserves) but only God.
The “instructions manual” for the Seder is called the Haggadah, a book that contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Sages, and special Passover songs. Seder customs include drinking four cups of wine, eating matza, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate (bitter herbs, hard boiled eggs, etc), and reclining while we eat (to act as free people). In my house and many others the basic Seder is supplemented with song parodies, stupid parlor tricks (like changing water into blood) and family discussion about the meaning of the freedoms given to us by God.
One key player in the Exodus story is missing from the entire Haggadah…Moses; Prophet, miracle maker, former prince of Egypt, and tennis player (the Bible says Moses served in the courts of Pharaoh). Can you believe it, the guy who put his arse online, confronted the most powerful king on earth before and after each plague, split the Reed Sea doesn’t get a mention in the official explaining the exodus script? (Reed Sea no typo in Hebrew its Yam Suf, Sea of Reeds).
Beginning at age 80 this poor guy had to lead 600,000 Jews on a forty year trip through the wilderness hearing nothing but whining– and when the guy was 120 years old–he got them close to their destination and poor Moses gets replaced by a younger guy, Joshua (who was only 90).
Moses deserves better treatment after enduring forty years of “not asking for directions” or “making a wrong turn and missed the oil” jokes. And the complaints!!
The long wilderness walk was where Jews began a tradition which still exists today, whining about the food during a trip, can you imagine what poor Moses had to listen to? One indication of their whining is what they called the food sent down from heaven itself; Manna. Manna or Mah Na is Hebrew for “what is this?” and that is not a joke.
Near the end of the Seder, a glass of wine is poured, the front door is opened and an ancient prophet is invited in to parse his thirst…Elijah. Elijah?!?!? Moses was endured Pharoah, the Exodus, forty years of wandering in a desert-like wilderness and he doesn’t even get offered a glass of freaking water, but Elijah, Mr. “ride a flaming chariot into heaven,” gets a glass of wine at every Seder in every Jewish house across the world. And guess what? Elijah is invited to every Jewish boy’s bris, we save a seat for him…so he gets free whitefish and bagels all year long. And poor Moses doesn’t get a mention during the seder!?!? See what I mean?
Ignoring Moses was not a biblical command, but a man-made decision. The Haggadah is a book put together by Rabbis after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. It was created so Jews would have a guideline of how to celebrate the holiday without the animal sacrifices conducted at the Holy Temple. It was those sages who said ix-nay on the oses-may.
So in honor of poor Moses, who had to deal with so much and still gets blamed for the fact that if he made a right instead of a left the Jews would have all the oil, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the ways he was portrayed in Hollywood:
(if you cannot see 12 videos below click here)
The 1923 Cecil B. DeMille Silent Version of The Ten Commandments:
The Moses We All Know Charlton Heston from the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille Remake of The Ten Commandments:
Trailer (in Italian) for 1975 TV Mini-Series, Moses Starring Burt Lancaster
Ben Kingsley as Moses in the 1996 TBS Miniseries Moses
The Ten Commandments (Musical) Val Kilmer as Moses
Dougray Scott as Moses in the 2006 Miniseries The Ten Commandments
The Queen Version–Passover Rhapsody – A Jewish Rock Opera
Perhaps The Most Human Portrayal of Moses Ever (OK maybe not…. but at least its the funniest), Mel Brooks in The History of the World Part 1
An Arabic TV Channel Moses
The History Channel’s Bible Mini-Series from 2014 had a Moses
And of course the latest Moses in the Movie Moses: Gods and Kings–Moses was Played by
Batman Christian Bale
Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat [even ignored prophets]; whoever is in need, let him join us for the Seder of Passover. This year we are here; next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year may we be free people.
May this coming year see people all over the world realize freedom from oppression of all kinds, from tyrannical despots who want to destroy the Jewish State, to well meaning politicians who take away our God-given freedoms from some so they to can transfer wealth to others. And may all of you have a joyous and meaningful Passover and for my gentile friends may your Easter weekend be joyous and meaningful also.