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    Moses: A heretic?! – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I think I’ve worked out why Moses is left out of the Haggadah, He constantly questions God’s judgment. Maybe God was sorry He appointed him! Could I be right?

    The Rothschild Haggadah, 1479

    A. You might not believe it, but some midrashic sages actually said something similar.

    Time after time, they point out, Moses tried to get out of his mission. He told God he was no speaker (Ex. 6:12). He felt he would not be able to explain God’s decisions to outsiders (Ex. 3:11). He was scared to face God (Ex. 3:10).

    A work called The Letters of Rabbi Akiva says that when Moses said things like this the whole world reeled with shock. Not so much because Moses was a heretic but that he was embarrassed by his past record and felt unworthy of the task to which he had been called.

    He had not been brought up amongst the Israelites but at the royal palace, he had not suffered the rigours of enslavement, he had left Egypt and moved to Midian, he had married a gentile woman and led a non-Jewish life, and he felt quite unfitted to lead the Israelite people into their destiny.

    When God gave him no choice but propelled him into Jewish leadership he was under constant challenge from the people and his own conscience. He was learning on the job and it was never a smooth passage.

    Yet this was not really the reason for the omission of his name from the Haggadah. That was more likely to be in order to emphasise that the redemption of the Israelites was due to God, and Moses was not the actual redeemer but the earthly agent who carried out the Divine instructions.

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