Student Teaching in the New Millenium

Me And You

In Exodus on January 16, 2012 at 11:37 pm

It is raining outside.
I come get you at work.
We drive home together.

The truth of us, this:
No ride, you get wet.
No ride, I drive home alone.

Parsha Waera

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh (painting by Be...

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh, by Benjamin West (1738-1820)

And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

Exodus 6.13

Why does God speak to Moses and Aaron here?

The Mekhilta interprets the phrase: God did not actually speak to both Moses and Aaron, as it is said And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spoke unto Moses in the land of Egypt (Ex. 6.28). “If so, what does Scripture mean to teach by saying here, ‘unto Moses and Aaron’? It merely teaches that just as Moses was perfectly fit to receive the divine words, so was Aaron perfectly fit to receive the divine words. And why then did He not not speak to Aaron? In order to grant distinction to Moses.” I disagree with this interpretation.

Why? The Mekhilta offers a second interpretation.

Why is it said here, ‘unto Moses and Aaron’? Because it says, ‘and the Lord said unto Moses: See, I have set thee in God’s stead over Pharoah.’ (Ex. 7.1). From this I would know only that Moses was a judge over Pharoah. What about Aaron? By saying here, ‘unto Moses and Aaron’, Scripture teaches that Aaron was equal to Moses: just as Moses was a judge over Pharoah, so was Aaron a judge over Pharoah; just as Moses would speak his words fearlessly, so also would Aaron speak his words fearlessly. Rabbi says: unto Moses and Aaron. I might understand that the one preceding in the scriptural text actually had precedence over the other. But in the passage: ‘These are that Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said,’ etc. (Ex. 6.26), Aaron is mentioned first. Scripture thus declares that both were equal, the one as important as the other.

Why declare that Moses warranted some special distinction, and then declare that Aaron and Moses were equal? Perhaps Moses needed a booster, having mentioned his speech impediment a second time (6.12) and a third time (6.30). God addresses himself to Moses and Aaron again in 7.8-9, when He choreographs their next meeting with Pharoah, and explains to each the role they are to play.

Let’s ask this: what if Aaron said no? What if Aaron had said “you two can do what you like with your ‘God and Moses’ fan club. I’m going home”? The Exodus would not have taken place as we understand it, if it took place at all.

The Book of Exodus is a turning point in the story of Israel, shifting from individual narrative to communal history and fate. This shift is embodied in the name of the book, which is Shemot, or Names.

If the emphasis of the text is on the community, why single out one person for “special distinction”? Why was Moses singled out to lead the Israelites out of Egypt? Did Moses have unique abilities that qualified him for the job? Who else was responsible for Exodus? God and Aaron, so, a group. What about the Israelite community?

As long as the Jews refuse to listen to their leaders, the leaders will be ineffectual, because all their power is derived from the people in their charge. If the Jews had listened to Moshe, “his mouth would have been opened,” that is, he would have become articulate and his words would have left an impresson even on Pharoah. But since the Jews did not listen to him, Moshe was “of sealed lips” – he was unable to open his mouth to plead their cause effectively before Pharoah.

Sefas Emes

The text cannot confer unfair benefits on Moses without losing integrity. How? Out of fairness to Aaron and the Israelites, equal partners with Moses in the business of liberation, without whom Exodus couldn’t happen.  Pharoah too.

Individual responsibility is necessary for community, and communal interdependence is necessary to achieve group success.  Thus says Ezekiel:

Thus saith the Lord GOD: When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the nations, then shall they dwell in their own land which I gave to My servant Jacob.

Ezekiel 28.25

And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the LORD, because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel. When they take hold of thee with the hand, thou dost break, and rend all their shoulders; and when they lean upon thee, thou breakest, and makest all their loins to be at a stand.

Ezekiel 29.6,7

Communities flourish when peoples behave in harmony. Communities fail when peoples lack integrity. Cult of Personality is no substitute.  Why should we say “so and so is less important than so and so when God doesn’t?

Our pesuk names those necessary for Exodus.  God.  Moses.  Aaron.  Pharoah.  Egypt.  Us.  We are in the community.

Why can’t we accept that we are equally important?

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  1. […] Me And You (thetalmidrebbe.wordpress.com) […]

  2. An awesome work of art you have here, thanks for sharing and do continue to allow God to use you to manifest the reality that you desire each day of your life.

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