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Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Moses Got Screwed Out of The Passover Seder

Moses was screwed! There is no other way to put it.

At sundown Monday night, Jews all across the world will begin the celebration of the holiday of Passover. Outside of Israel, the first two days of the holiday begin with a Seder (Jewish holidays begin in the evening) 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 that 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 ים סוף pronounced Yam Suf, it means Sea of Reeds The “Red Sea” phrase came into the account with the third century BCE translation of the the Torah into Greek. Called the Septuagint (abbreviated as LXX), its translators made Yam Suf (“Sea of Reeds”) into eruthrá thálassē (“Red Sea”). The Latin Vulgate followed their lead with mari Rubro (“Red Sea”) and most English versions continued that tradition.

Anyway back to Moses. Beginning at age 80 this poor guy had to lead 600,000+ Israelites on a forty year trip through the wilderness.  And when poor Moses was 120 years old, he got the Israelites close to their destination he gets forcibly retired so he can be replaced by a younger guy, Joshua (who was only 90).

Moses deserves better treatment after enduring forty years of "not asking for directions" 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. Translated into English Manna literally means "what is this?"

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 house across the world---MOSES Doesn't get a glass of water...or  a mention....See what I mean? The man who led us out of Egypt got a major league screw job!


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 so Jews (by then they were no longer called Israelites but Jews), so the Jews would have a guideline of how to celebrate the holiday without the animal sacrifices conducted in Jerusalem. It was those sages who said ix-nay on the oses-may.

Even worse some modern Jews have begun a new tradition, adding a cup of wine in recognition of the contributions of Moses' sister Miriam.  MIRIAM?  Moses was the leader and he doesn't get a mention...But Miriam gets her own cup....See what I mean.

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 ten 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




DreamWorks Animated Prince Of Egypt With Val Kilmer as the Voice of Moses



Ben  Kingsley as Moses in the 1996 TBS Miniseries Moses



The Ten Commandments (Musical) Val Kilmer as Moses (I have seen the entire musical--it is another affront to the memory of 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




and the Latest entrant...the History Channel's Bible series:




Somewhere around 34 centuries ago, Moses acted as God's agent--helping the children of Israel leave Egypt and head to the Holy Land. But every Passover Seder since then has virtually ignored him.

He may have been mentioned during the last century  but only in the context of more complaints "Well if Moses made a right turn instead of a left, we would have all the oil."

It is my hope that this  humble attempt evens the playing field a bit, and by the way Moses, if you find yourself in the neighborhood during the Seders please stop by for some brisket, a drink of wine and some storytelling with family and friends. As we say at the beginning of each Seder:
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 to well meaning politicians who take away freedoms from some in order to transfer wealth to others.

PS: If anybody knows of more movie Moses' please put link in the comments

3 comments:

Jeff Dunetz said...

Unfortunately, the Mel Brooks version you posted was blocked, but I found this one available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAtRCJIqnk

Jeff Dunetz said...

The link for the Mel Brooks version is blocked but I found the same scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAtRCJIqnk - ENJOY!

Jeff Dunetz said...

Thank you Shoshannah I used your link....Have a zissen Pesach