Moses

For all those holding Passover.

I remember Moses. He stood there before Old Man Pharaoh, stuttering and telling him, “Let my People go.” That day he was as tall as the day is long as it stretches from dawn to sunset. The Egyptians laughed. How dare Moses insult them with his arrogance. When the Old Man refused to let us go, Moses stretched out the staff of the Lord and gave him ten plagues, each one worse than the last.

Then Moses stood before a crowd of us. We were angry because Pharaoh had added more to our work than we could bear. More straw, more brick, that wicked man demanded from us. Moses stuttered till his brother Aaron spoke his words.

“Pharaoh will let the People go,” Aaron said, but he did not believe. None of us did. When you’re a slave and the Master has used you all up, what hope do you have?

Then the tenth plague bore down on all the households of that accursed land. The Angel of Death roved around that Passing-over night from midnight until dawn, going from house to house, killing Egyptian children. But our babies were spared. The Lord had told us to mark the doors of our houses with the blood of a lamb. This we had done.

That night the Nile ran red with despair. The Papas and the Mamas of Egypt grieved a grief as sad a lamentation as any heard by that River in its long years since the beginning of the world. It was their first-borns that Death snatched from their arms and sent to the grave. There were some fine Egyptians, but the Angel spared none of them.

Next we heard Pharaoh commanded Moses to take his scum and go.

“Go. Leave. I will not see you any more,” Pharaoh’s anger spoke and it spoke hard. “Get thee hence.”

His gods had failed him. Where was Horus when the Lord of the Two Lands, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt, needed him? His son, his only child, his heir by the woman whom he loved more than all his kingdom, his only son was dead. While the priests prepared the son of Pharaoh for burial in the Valley of the Kings, we rejoiced and danced in the streets. Our deliverance had finally come.

“We’re free,” my uncle Eleazar shouted. “Our jailers are jailers no more.”

The sun rose early that new day as we gathered in the Land of Goshen. Everywhere there were people, our people. There were so many of us that the streets buckled under the load of our weight. We had not known that our father Jacob had so many children.

Calmly standing above us, and before us, was Moses. He raised his staff of oak and turned toward the sea and led us out from that land of our slavery toward a new home in a Promised Land.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: An Epic to be all the other Epics

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “The Ten Commandments” (1956):

To all my Jewish friends, you are in my thoughts as I wish you well during this Passover season. 

It’s almost become a cliché, this movie. That’s why I hesitate to recommend it. But during this season of Passover, it’s very hard to ignore. Hollywood has tried to remake this movie any number of times and has failed. There is something about this one that gets to the heart of the story.

The story is an epic one. It is the foundation of our civilization. It is the story Jesus celebrated with His parents as a child and with His disciples at the Last Supper. This is why I have never understood how those who call themselves Christian can be anti-Semitic.

It is the founding of the Jewish nation built on the desire for a people who wished to be free. But it wasn’t an easy road. This people did not become a nation because it was easy. They became a nation only after years of suffering in slavery, then more years of wandering in a wilderness. Before they became the Promised Land of nationhood.

It is the beginning of Western Civilization’s belief in freedom as a core value. By looking back to the story of Exodus, the African-American community developed a belief in their ultimate delivery from slavery. The call, “Let my people,” can be heard in the song, “We shall overcome,” and in the words of Dr. King’ “I have a dream.” Just like the children of Israel, this community knew that liberation was not only possible, but inevitable. It was this same call for justice and freedom that those at Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square were crying out for. Wherever injustice and tyranny exists, the call, “Let my people go,” will be heard.

It is story of the gift of Law. Without the law, there can only be chaos. But it must be a law that respects the rights of all. That is a law that everybody is under. Even the king. It was this story and those Commandments that were a forerunner to Roman Law, to the Magna Carta, English Common Law, the Constitution of United States and the Napoleonic Code. When the Declaration of Independence declared that all men were created equal and when Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, they were building upon the belief established by the Exodus story.

So, when I watched this movie one more time, I remembered these things. I was also reminded of what a great movie this one is.

Of course the movie can’t completely remove the “from my cold dead hands” remark Charlton Heston made before the NRA. I’m sure when all is said and done, he would prefer to be remembered for his performance as Moses, calling for Pharaoh to “Let my people go.” I know I would. One thing is for sure. Yul Brynner was never better.