Daniel and Karl use Chapter 9 of Exodus as an opportunity to talk about idealism and realism, trauma and hope. In particular, they discuss ideas articulated in Rabbi David Hartman’s article “Auschwitz or Sinai?” You can subscribe to the podcast through iTunes or your favorite podcast supplier, or listen to it below. Show notes and midrash are below the media player.
A DSO Big Read of Exodus
Chapters 9 & 10
(Rashi, 9:10) upon man and upon beast:
Now if you ask, “From where did they have beasts? Does it not say already, ‘and all the livestock of the Egyptians died’ (above, verse 6) ?” [I will answer that] the decree was leveled only upon those in the field, as it is said: “upon your livestock that is in the field” (above, verse 3), but he who feared the word of the Lord brought all his livestock into the houses, and so it is taught in the Mechilta (Beshallach 1) regarding “He took six hundred chosen chariots” (Exod. 14:7).
(Midrash Rabbah, 9:12) G‑d hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them
Following each of the first five plagues, it is written, “Pharaoh hardened his heart”; regarding the sixth plague it says, “G‑d hardened the heart of Pharaoh.” When G‑d saw that Pharaoh did not relent after the first five plagues, He said: Even if Pharaoh now wished to repent, I shall harden his heart, in order to exact full punishment from him.
(Rashi, 9:18) at this time tomorrow:
[Heb. כָּעֵתמָחָר lit., at the time tomorrow, meaning] at this time tomorrow. He made a scratch on the wall [to demonstrate that] “Tomorrow, when the sun reaches here, the hail will come down.” -[from Tanchuma, Va’era 16]
(Midrash Rabbah, 9:24) So there was hail, and fire flaring up within the hail
Imagine two fierce legions who were always at war with one another, but when the king needed their services for his own battle, he made peace between them, so that both should carry out the orders of the king. Likewise, fire and water are hostile to each other, but when the time came to do war with Egypt, G‑d made peace between them and both smote the Egyptians as “fire within the hail.”
(Rashi, 9:29) Moses went away from Pharaoh, out of the city, and spread out his hands to G‑d (9:29)
Moses did not wish to pray to G‑d inside the city, for it was full of idols.
(Midrash Rabbah, 9:33) The thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was no longer poured upon the earth
The hailstones which were on the way down when Moses prayed were suspended in midair, and did not reach the earth. When did they descend? In the days of Joshua they descended upon the Amorites, as it is written (Joshua 10:11): “It came to pass, as they fled from before Israel . . . that G‑d cast down great stones from heaven upon them.” The remainder will descend in the days of Gog and Magog.
Karl, Robin and Daniel delve into Exodus, Ch. 8, the plagues, the nature of good and evil, the nature of mercy and justice, and all the other large and intense questions, with a little midrashic humor thrown in. Listen here or subscribe on iTunes. The midrash that Daniel selected is below. (more…)
by Miriam McKenney
Exodus 14:35 Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
My youth group is participating in The Big Read, Southern Ohio’s collective reading of the Book of Exodus. From the parting of the Red Sea to the repetitive instructions to build the Ark of the Covenant, we’re immersing ourselves into the word of God in old and new ways. (more…)
image credit: The plague of blood” from “The Golden Haggadah,” Catalonia, early.
This week Daniel and Karl are joined by Robin Holland for their discussion of Exodus Chapter 7. The plagues begin! There are magical battles between the Levite Bros. and Pharaoh! And we get to ask questions about free will, systems of dominance, and the natural creation. (more…)
Daniel and Karl are joined by Maggie Leidheiser-Stoddard to discuss Exodus Chapter 6, a chapter full of quarreling with God, insecurity about leadership, and lots and lots of genealogy. We all ended up feeling sorry for Moses, and wondering why verses 26 and 27 go out of their way to assure us that it’s the Moses and Aaron the descendants of Levi who were battling Pharaoh, not some other Moses and Aaron. Were there a lot of Moses and Aaron’s running around in the ancient world? (more…)
by Karl Stevens
In her Adult Forum video, “Revolutionary Themes in Exodus,” Paula Jackson points out that the first plague, the river turned to blood, reveals the violence that’s already inherent in the world. Pharaoh has been using the Nile as the means of murdering the firstborn Hebrew children. The river is full of blood, but this can be ignored as long as the water runs clear. However, God is not content to let privileged people rest in their safety, untouched by the horrific things that are done in their name. Everybody suffers when the water is turned to blood, and that’s the point. The poor and oppressed have been suffering all along. They can’t be relieved of their suffering until the rich and powerful have a change of heart. And God’s plan is to give privileged people the experience of suffering, so that they can’t ignore it and will learn to hate it, not just for themselves but for everyone – and because they’ve experienced it and hated it, they will assist in the change that needs to happen in the world. (more…)
Image: Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh, 1931, Marc Chagall
Daniel and Karl dive into Chapter 5 and discuss the nature of God, the nature of social movements, the struggle for justice, and the tragedy of injustice. The midrash that Daniel selected for us is below the audio player on this page. (more…)
by Jason Prati
“The God of the Hebrews has revealed himself to us; let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to the Lord our God” (Exodus 5:3)
Many times throughout chapters 3-8, the reason given for the Exodus is worship. In Moses’ first encounter with God in the burning bush, God commands him to tell Pharaoh that “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; let us now go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God (Exodus 3:18).” Here in Exodus 5, Moses and Aaron fulfill the Lord’s command. They could have given a whole angry list of reasons to shout at Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free: the hardship of their labor, the injustice of the oppression, the affliction that they bore. However, the reason given is to worship. “Pharaoh, we need to get out of Egypt for a couple of days for a “Church service,” would that be cool with you?” The reason, at first glance, seems bizarre. Yet, in the context of the Torah, it is the fundamental reason of human existence. (more…)