Nov 11, 2006
By Robert Harris
| Commentary | Vayera
Years ago, in a national television program called Laugh In (yes, I lived during the Stone Age — the Rolling Stone Age. Never mind.), a comedian lampooned the song “They Called the Wind Moriah” from the Broadway show Paint Your Wagon.
Mar 4, 2006
By Robert Harris
| Commentary | Terumah
Recent portions of the Torah have dealt with the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai; the great theophany of God, in which God spoke the Ten Words, or Decalogue; the revelation of the Book of the Covenant, containing the first extended legal section of the Torah; and the covenantal ceremony sealing the everlasting special relationship between God and the people of Israel (Exodus 19–24).
Perhaps by now you have seen the animated feature, The Prince of Egypt. In one scene, the character of Moses is portrayed as being plagued(!) by his conscience immediately after killing the Egyptian who had been beating the Israelite (see Exodus 2:12). In fact, the movie eliminates the secretive nature of this act as the Biblical narrative presents it (look it up!), and instead depicts Moses as fleeing Egypt — not because the Egyptian authorities are seeking his life — but as a result of his moral abhorrence of his own act. The taking of a human life is judged by this animated pacifist as reason for self-exile from society. Unfortunately, the film does not take up the issue of the wholesale loss of Egyptian life in the ensuing plagues sequence and splitting of the sea. In the movie, Moses never questions God’s fierce methods in freeing the Israelites from slavery. We shall return to this issue below.