Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Prince of Egypt


(A re-post from three years ago)

Orthodox Jewish reactions to the Dreamworks movie "The Prince of Egypt" were generally negative. Moses was portrayed as being too young, and not holy enough; Aharon was portrayed in a poor light; Tzipporah was not particular tzanua; etc., etc. To be sure, there is what to criticize, including some inaccuracies that probably don't even occur to people; for example, the Torah does not describe Yocheved as dangerously floating Moshe down the river (although it makes for a terrific song in the movie), but rather as placing him in the reeds.

But there is one major theme in the movie which, while it probably grates on the sensitivities of some Orthodox Jews, is an important part of the story.

We're all brought up being taught that Moshe was the greatest tzaddik ever, and the Egyptians were the worst resha'im. And so when The Prince of Egypt depicts Moses as having a close relationship with Rameses, and being emotionally torn up when assisting in the plagues inflicted upon him, this makes some of us uncomfortable. But I think that this is an extremely valuable point in Moshe growing up in Pharaoh's palace to begin with.

Ibn Ezra says that the leader of the Jewish People could only be someone who grew up in such circumstances. Had Moshe grown up as a slave, with the lowly mentality of a slave, he wouldn’t have had the confidence and character traits to be a leader. Attacking the Egyptian who was hitting the Jew, and saving the Bnos Midyan – Moshe was only capable of these things because he had grown up as royalty. But perhaps growing up as the prince of Egypt was also important as it placed him in a test that was crucial for his future as leader of the Jewish people:

“And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brothers, and looked on their burdens; and he spied an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brothers. And he looked this way and that way, and he saw that there was no man; and he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand". (Exodus 2:11-12)

Many years ago, I heard a terrific drush on this from Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopez-Cardozo, quoting Rav Shlomo Kluger: that we are being told here about the identity crisis of the prince of Egypt. When Moshe saw the Egyptian beating the Jew, “He looked this way and that way” – he looked at his royal Egyptian upbringing, and at his Jewish ancestral roots. “And he saw that there was no man” – he saw that he lacked a true identity. “And he slew the Egyptian” – within himself. “And hid him in the sand” – he totally detached himself from the Egyptian mindset, and aligned himself fully with the fate of the Jews.

This was the trial of identity for Moshe. Would he give up all the luxuries and familiarity of Egyptian culture, as well as the relationships from his life so far, to go over to “the other side” and reunite with the slave nation? Moshe passed the test. But I don't think that this trial of identity was only about his slaughter of the Egyptian. I think that, even if Moshe aligned himself fully with the Jews, it could not have been easy for him to leave Pharaoh's house, and to be involved with inflicting the plagues that harmed Pharaoh's home.

Consider this: as Rav Chaim Friedlander in Sifsei Chaim notes, a major theme of the entire Exodus is hakaras hatov (gratitude) - with two notable examples being Moshe not being able to smite the river and the dust, both of which saved him. Even though this was not a conscious act on the part of the river and the dust, Moshe nevertheless felt hakaros hatov towards them. Now, hakaros hatov is not an intellectual position; it is an emotional sentiment. If Moshe had this emotional connection, this feeling of gratitude, to the river and the dust, imagine how much of an emotional connection and feelings of gratitude he would have had to the home that raised him!

If we perceive Moshe as being Moshe Rabbeinu from day one, like all Gedolim are portrayed as being malachim from birth, then it's hard for us to imagine that he could have had these feelings towards Pharaoh's home. But if we realize that Moshe grew up as the Prince of Egypt, then we can certainly understand that his gratitude towards Pharaoh's home must surely have exceeded his gratitude towards the Nile and the dust. This is something that the movie does a good job of illustrating, and especially the pain that Moshe would have felt in his role with inflicting the plagues upon Egypt.

Feeling this distress, yet not letting it stand in the way of his vital job on behalf of his fellow Jews, was Moshe's akeidah. To be a leader requires tremendous dedication to the people. Moshe had to bring that dedication to light - by painfully giving up on his upbringing as the Prince of Egypt.

153 comments:

  1. "that we are being told here about the identity crisis of the prince of Egypt."

    regarding this identity crisis, see this parshablog post, where I tell over a multi-valent peshat, not of my own construction, in which the ambiguity in the word 'echav' conveys Moshe's own uncertainty over which group, Egyptians or Hebrews, comprise his brothers.

    kol tuv,
    josh

    ReplyDelete
  2. I heard an absolutely awful derush in the name of Rav Hutner, namely that the explanation of "כְבַד פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן אָנֹכִי" is that Moshe could not speak Egyptian! Aharon could, and that is why he was appointed navi for Moshe. The only thing missing is Moshe's shtraymel.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "This was the trial of identity for Moshe. Would he give up all the luxuries and familiarity of Egyptian culture ... to go over to “the other side” and reunite with the slave nation? "

    Isn't it much more likely from a rational perspective to take Freud's position in Moses and Monotheism that Moshe was _actually_ Egyptian by birth -- he _was_ the prince of Egypt (hence his Egyptian name, covering up of his illegitimate birth by Batya's fantastical story about "finding" a baby in the river, etc.)?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Once again I can't believe what I'm seeing here. The article is very good, so no issues with that at all. The comments, on the other hand?
    An "awful" drash in the name of Rav Hutner, zt"l? Rav Hutner was a tzadik gamor, ergo there can be no "awful derush" from him, if he, in fact, said it.
    And no, Jay, it is much more likely that he was found in the river, considering that hunderds of thousands of babies were thrown into the very same river. It wasn't Batya's story, it's the Torah's story of what happened.
    Does anyone here have not the slightest respect for the words of Torah?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Feh. Next you'll complain that Moshe and Nefertiti's relationship in the Cecil B DeMille version was made up for audience consumption too!

    ReplyDelete
  6. And so when The Prince of Egypt depicts Moses as having a close relationship with Rameses, and being emotionally torn up when assisting in the plagues inflicted upon him, this makes some of us uncomfortable.

    In terms of describing Moses' life in the Egyptian palace, the animated film picks up right where Cecil B. DeMille left off. A sizable portion of the latter's work was devoted to the relationships between Moses and the Pharaoh Seti, Rameses, Bithia, and the princess, his original "love." All of this is either a completely invented Hollywood-ism or loosely based on some midrashim. Of course, I'm pretty sure the first movie also isn't a "classic" within Orthodox circles, since its primary goal is not faithfulness to the biblical text and/or Jewish interpretation, but then again that's not why we go to see movies in the first place; we watch to be entertained!

    ReplyDelete
  7. >>>> hence his Egyptian name,

    maybe "moses" is Egytian but isn't his name Moishe and that's not egyptian.

    where does the name "moses" come from anyway?

    ReplyDelete
  8. your categorical assertion that hakkoras hattov is an "emotional sentiment", not an "intellectual position" seems to me a sort of tossed off presumption which actually is wrong. in fact one may equally argue that it is the latter rather than the former, or even both. a trivial point perhaps but precision in thinking is important. (and accuracy is even more important).

    ReplyDelete
  9. On the origin of the name "Moses/Moshe":

    http://www.archive.org/stream/mosesandmonothei032233mbp#page/n15/mode/2up

    ReplyDelete
  10. No, Jay, it is not more likely because a rationalist Torah Jew is not an apicoros.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This post is a disappointment. Rationalism shines when it comes to explaining Tanach. I have already cited Rambam in Moreh (II:45)and don't want to repeat myself ayen shom. Rambam believed that Moshe Rabeinu was larger than life and so do I. When Chazal tell us that when Moshe Rabeinu was born nismale kol habais ohrah! Think, what is the message? This post is not kfira but nor is it emes in a sense of expressing the true substantive ideas of the Torah.

    For hundreds of years it has been acceptable to say whatever one wants, tie it to psukim and call it drush. Everybody from right to left does it. I believe this approach is wrong. Lo kol haroizeh litol es hashem yavo veitol. When I just pronounce the name of Moshe Rabeinu, I am filed with reverence and love. Yes, he was the most perfect man who brought down the most perfect law! Yes, he was human and had his struggles and tribulations and made mistakes. However, I am not going to make up what they were.

    If poshuter liked the post and has no issues at all what does it tell us?

    ReplyDelete
  12. Lo tesaev es hamizri ki ger hoisa bearzo. This mitzva commands us hakoras ha tov on a practical level despite how we may feel about it. Hakoras hatov, like all mizvos haTorah should start with the intellect and affects our emotions once internalized. This is my understanding.

    ReplyDelete
  13. where does the name "moses" come from anyway?

    Elemir -

    The name "Moses" derives, historico-linguistically, from ancient Egyptian "mes/mesu," meaning "child, son." The "author" of the biblical passage in which Moses is named employed a folk etymology, and connected the name to the Hebrew root "mem-shin-yod/heh," meaning "to draw," as in "I [Pharoah's daughter] drew him from the river."

    So, you have two answers, depending on your perspective.

    Cheers!
    MAS

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  14. 'Does anyone here have not the slightest respect for the words of Torah?'

    Poshuter, droshos shel doifi are not the words of Torah nor are they kovod haTorah.

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  15. I am furious and let me tell you that I never saw that movie nor would I ever let my kids see it just like I don't give them books where Moishe Rabbeinu is dipicted in a strimel. Both are false and undermine the most important thing in Judaism - the Emunah! Rambam writes that emunah is not the words one pronounces but a ziur balev. Yes, the children should be brought up with reverence for our traditions and leaders.

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  16. Carol,

    Was Moshe a God or a man, or something in-between?

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  17. "like all mizvos haTorah should start with the intellect"

    Where did you get that from, Carol? Observance of mitzvos starts from yiras Hashem. Reishis chachma yiras Hashem. Ever hear it? You make a bracha regardless of whether you understand it or not, and the same for every other mitzvah up to and including #613.
    And drashas from any Gadol is considered as holy and respect-worthy as the tablets handed to Moshe on Sinai. Every competent frum Jew holds that way.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This must be a joke. The Torah comes from God and Gedolim are great people but human beings nevertheless and subject to many of the faults we are subject to. To equate their words and the words of the Torah is apirkorsus and may Hashem have mercy on your soul.

      Delete

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  18. The "author" of the biblical passage in which Moses is named employed a folk etymology...

    In case you were a bit late in getting the news delivered, the "author" was God.

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  19. "This post is a disappointment..."

    Carol - R' Slifkin has often pointed out the difference between rationality and rationalism. Rationalism, with an emphasis on academic Judaism rather than on traditional masoretic Judaism, easily produces results such as this post. (I am not saying that all of the posts here are of the same ilk - but I don't know why you should be so surprised).

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  20. I think the best part of the comments here is how much sarcasm went over others' heads.

    Anyway, a minor problem: not hitting the water or the land is NOT in the Humash. Midrashim %100. I personally don't like it when we do midrash on midrashim.

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  21. Michael (& jay) thanks but you misunderstood my question?

    To re-ask..did the princess who found him name him “moses” or did she name him “moishe”. And if “moses” then where did the name Moishe come from? And even if she called him Moishe, two questions arise. (a) the explanation given in the Khumash makes no sense, because certainly the princess would not have used a “hebrew” source for a name (even in the unlikely event that she knew or spoke Hebrew). (b) and then..who and where in history did the name “moses” emerge.

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  22. Carol,

    I think you underestimate (generally) children’s capacity to distinguish between Hollywood entertainment and what a child is taught at home or in school.

    I was 10 years old when the first Ten Commandments movie came out in the late ‘50s. I come from a “moderne” Galiciane chassiddishe home but was a student in a lubavitcher yeshiva . At school they emphatically warned us not to go see the movie, as the story was non-sense. My father let me go anyway and explained to me that it was simply entertainment and had nothing to do with what we (as frumme yidden) believed happened. I, to this day remember coming away from the movie clearly understanding the distinction.

    Of course, my story could be the exception or maybe kids in my day were more mature at 10, but i don’t think so.

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  23. Yes, he was the most perfect man who brought down the most perfect law! Yes, he was human and had his struggles and tribulations and made mistakes.

    Carol,
    How do you reconcile these two totally contradictory statements of yours? How can he be the Most Perfect Man, yet have made mistakes? You are placing above the level of humanity, which is where another religion made it's most significant error.
    And, you should reconsider letting your kids watch such a well made, and for the most part factually based animated movie. I found it educational, and inspiring, (especially the singing of Az Yahir in Hebrew) and much more suitable for bringing realism and understanding to the concept of Yetziat Mitzraim for a young child than a reading of any of those ludicrous "The Little Midrash Says" books.

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  24. That's a good vort about looking both ways, but why interepret is symbolically? Keep it at the literal pshat level - he looked around to see if there were any Egyptians around, because if he identified with Egyptians, he wouldnt want one seeing him help out a Jew. He would lose his street cred that way.

    Agav, when Yocheved put baby Moshe in the water, was she expecting Baysa to come by, or was that just furtuitous divine providence? I took a poll of the oilam in the beis medrash years ago. [It was NIRC, so it represented a good cross section of Jews, from the born-agains to the wannabe briskers]Turns out everyone was brought up thinking the latter. But Winston Churchill in one of his articles says it was the former. Makes sense.

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  25. Some thoughts on the topic:

    1) There is an interesting dispute between Tiferes Yisrael and R. AJ Twerski vs. R. Yehoshua Leib Diskin and R. Shimshon Pincus.

    Tiferes Yisrael quotes a Midrash regarding physiognomists who said that Moshe was " narcissistic, arrogant, lustful and capable of the worst kind of behavior". R. AJ Twerski, in the link below, quotes this Midrash as showing that Moshe transformed himself in terms of Freudian sublimation.

    R Shimshon Pincus, in "Nefesh Shimshon: Principles of Faith", as I recall, quotes RYL Diskin as saying the Midrash is a forgery. R. Pincus agrees for two reasons:

    A) Per Chizkuni about the clouds of glory, any physiognomist would not be able to enter the camp because of annei hakavod.

    B) Philosophically, Moshe would not be able to reach a high leval had he had ordinary desires; he compares this to needing a proper launching pad to reach space.

    http://www.jewishworldreview.com/twerski/twerski_nitzavim.php3

    2) The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuvah says that everyone can emulate Moshe's righteousness; Kovetz Mamorim says that this refers to being an eved Hashem based on Radak.

    3) In this week's American Hamodia Magazine there is an article featured on the cover, which like R. Pincus, emphazises the transcendence of Moshe(eg, house full of light when born). The author ties this into emunah chachamim and trusting gedolim, saying that we are uncapable of understanding their decisons, as they have higher souls, similar to Moshe, as I recall from the article.

    I belive that one can offer a more rationalistic view of Daas Torah. One can agree with the concept of "siyata dishmaya", and still have respectful and rational discussions about leaders' decisons.

    R. Michael Rozensweig in a shiur on Torah web also aims for a rational version of Daas Torah(see link below," Torah Web, 51:15 on audio, "Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding: The Guidance of Daas Torah", April 30, 2006):

    "Let it be clear: 'daas' in not infallible. This question of infallibility has often been the straw man in the argument against what I call 'rational daas Torah', which is what I am trying to project this evening. Daas Torah is the foundation for powerful convictions, but nothing is infallible (except the Ribbono Shel Olam, of course)..." He continues with the example of Betzalel winning an argument against Moshe regarding building the Mishkan. "

    http://www.torahweb.org/audioFrameset.html#audio=rros_043006

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  26. Jay:
    see my debunking of this Egyptian etymology of Moshe's name in this post, especially in point 5. I don't find the etymology plausible at all.

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  27. elemir,

    The name "Moses" was adopted into the English language via Latin translations of the TaNaCh.

    It was first used in English can be found in the translations of Venerable Bede or Aldheld, both dating to the 7th century CE and both using the latin Vulgata as their source.

    The oldest form of this transliteration can be found in the Septuagint (LXX - greek translation of the TaNaCh), commonly dated to the 3rd century BCE. The Greeks didn't have a letter (and probably couldn't pronounce it) for the hebrew "shin" and replaced it with greek "sigma". Hence Moshe becomes Mose. They also did't like male names ending with a vowel, hence Mose becomes hellenized Moses.

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  28. Poshuter, motivation comes from yiras Hashem but not the reason.


    Jay, Torah calls him 'Ish HaElokim'. Why do you think that I think anything different?

    Tom said: 'Rationalism, with an emphasis on academic Judaism rather than on traditional masoretic Judaism, easily produces results such as this post.'
    Tom, do you consider R. Cordozo's drush academic? Why isn't R. Hutner's
    also academic?

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  29. What's wrong with the standard version of Moshe? "Ki min hamayim mishisihu", he was drawn from the water, in Hebrew. Miriam may have told bas Paroh the name herself. No problems with that at all.

    I hope the Winston Churchill comment was a joke, otherwise since when do we even care what Gentile thought is?

    If you want to see very well made true to the real story (as much as possible) 10 Commandments movies, check out 2 of them available on Ebay. I think they are both called "Moses", or 1 may be called "The 10 Commandments" as well. One has Ben Kingsley as Moses, the other I forget but Linus Roache (from Law and Order) plays Aaron. Both are very close to midrashic stories and wonderfully made, without the Hollywood glitz and love stories and all.

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  30. How can he be the Most Perfect Man, yet have made mistakes?

    Why capitals? Humans learn by mistakes. This our nature. Rambam calls him that. Torah calls him ish haElokim. I don't see a problem. Explain your problem pls.

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  31. Thanks Shimon S.

    What you write seems the most reasonable to me and that was my intended point when I asked the question…(and with apologizes to the sensibilities of PY) ... the point being that if the princess did give Moishe an Egyptian name, we simply don’t know what it was.

    To jay and your first comment above:….The name “moses” being etymologically Egyptian is likely just a coincidence.

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  32. My father let me go anyway and explained to me that it was simply entertainment and had nothing to do with what we (as frumme yidden) believed happened.

    I take Torah seriously and to me there is no such thing as 'simply entertainment' when it comes to Torah, Moshe Rabbenu, Avos or Chazal. This is worse than leizonus - it's chillul of everything Kodesh. Shame on anyone who lends his hand to it!

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  33. Shadesof wrote: 'Tiferes Yisrael quotes a Midrash regarding physiognomists who said that Moshe was " narcissistic, arrogant, lustful and capable of the worst kind of behavior". R. AJ Twerski, in the link below, quotes this Midrash as showing that Moshe transformed himself in terms of Freudian sublimation.'

    This midrash doesn't reflect, was never meant to reflect and cannot possibly reflect a historical reality. It is written to encourage us to overcome our shortcomings. The pilpul is laughable, but its a bittere gelechter.

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  34. " ... see my debunking of this Egyptian etymology of Moshe's name in this post, especially in point 5. I don't find the etymology plausible at all. ... "

    Enjoyed your post, but what I don't find plausible is that hundreds of scholars can be flat-out wrong. Are they all idiots, and they didn't realize it's a sh sound and not an s?

    Then again, there are scholars who point out that no one really knows how Hebrew, let alone ancient Egyptian, actually sounded.

    Anyway sh is not so far from s -- move the dot over the shin a few millimeters and you've got a sin. Maybe that indicates the fine line between being Egyptian and being Jewish, or any other drush you want to make on the subject.

    Bottom line, I think I'll go with the Netziv.

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  35. You should check out the Ralbag who makes a similar point but says that the house of Pharaoh would be the best place for him to get training in the "sciences." (At least I think that is what he says--I have to check when I get home to my Ralbag)

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  36. Isn't it much more likely from a rational perspective to take Freud's position in Moses and Monotheism that Moshe was _actually_ Egyptian by birth -- he _was_ the prince of Egypt (hence his Egyptian name, covering up of his illegitimate birth by Batya's fantastical story about "finding" a baby in the river, etc.)?

    I understand people who think that the story is entirely myth. But if you believe the Torah's account that Batya found a baby and named him Moshe, why wouldn't you believe the Torah's account that he was placed there by his mother?

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  37. Carol - neither drush is academic. I was merely pointing out that when one is heavily influenced/motivated by academic concerns, then the "Ish HaElokim" aspect of Moshe Rabeinu can be quickly discarded.

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  38. Carol, can you please specify what in particular about this post or about the movie is inappropriate? Your comments have been general so far, but I'd like to hear what specifically is so irking you.

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  39. "This midrash doesn't reflect, was never meant to reflect and cannot possibly reflect a historical reality"

    What about a mental reality, ie, Moshe's original makeup? One can agree with R. Pincus that the physiognomists aspect of the Midrash is not historical, but there is also a disagreement, as I mentioned, regarding Moshe's original character, with the Tiferes Yisrael holding, in theory at least, that Moshe may have had strong negative inclinations.

    (As I recall, R. Yaakov Emden in a footnote to the Rambam in Shemonah Perakim disagrees with the Rambam regarding the defeciency of wanting to transgress "mitzvos sichliyos", and says "kol hagadol machaveiro" can apply even to mitzvos sicliyos without detracting from the person's greatness).

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  40. Re Carol’s comment: “This post is a disappointment. Rationalism shines when it comes to explaining Tanach. I have already cited Rambam in Moreh (II:45)and don't want to repeat myself ayen shom. Rambam believed that Moshe Rabeinu was larger than life and so do I.”

    I think you need to make an important distinction between before and after Matan Torah. After Matan Torah, Moshe Rabeinu had the status of a Malach; see Meshech Chachma, Introduction to Sefer Shemot. Moshe Rabeinu’s prophecy is irrefutable and timeless. However, before Matan Torah, Moshe Rabeinu had to “work” himself up to the level he subsequently attained. It seems to me that this post is taking a very rational position; that Moshe Rabeinu was not a Malach from birth.

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  41. >>>> I take Torah seriously and to me there is no such thing as 'simply entertainment' when it comes to Torah, Moshe Rabbenu, Avos or Chazal

    I guess my Dad had a different view on what constitutes (frum) jewish life. He must’ve believed that a 10 year old is allowed some fun.

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  42. "Enjoyed your post, but what I don't find plausible is that hundreds of scholars can be flat-out wrong. Are they all idiots, and they didn't realize it's a sh sound and not an s?"

    really, an appeal to authority? one Biblical scholar suggested it, and everyone else follows as a result of groupthink. doesn't mean that I, as a Biblical scholar, (and I am), need to agree with them. and indeed, there are Biblical scholars who disagree. (thus, e.g., the Canaanite etymologies which have been promoted.)

    "Anyway sh is not so far from s -- move the dot over the shin a few millimeters and you've got a sin."
    or you could just say that they meant a sin. but see Dr. Steiner's article on 'the original sin' (pun intended), which was not the same as a samech. besides, as i wrote there, let us grant that the Torah would encode the /s/ sound of Egyptian as a Shin/Sin. Why, then, is the /s/ sound as it occurs in Ramses, which is purportedly of the same etymology - the MSS ending is the same as the in X-MSS to become Moshe, encoded with a samech instead of with a sin/shin?

    kol tuv,
    josh

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  43. R'Gil,

    "But if you believe the Torah's account that Batya found a baby and named him Moshe"

    Torah says "Pharaoh's daughter". Midrash says it was Bitya (not Batya), pharaoh's daughter, mentioned in Divrei Hayamim I. 4:18 (as someone living much later).

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  44. elemer,

    I don't think anyone is really operating with the form "MOSES". What they are saying is that the Hebrew name mem-shin-hei is just a version of an Egyptian name or word. Opinions differ on which one.

    Also note that we know very little about how ancient Egyptian (any of them) sounded.

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  45. "This is something that the movie does a good job of illustrating, and especially the pain that Moshe would have felt in his role with inflicting the plagues upon Egypt."

    Excellent point. Similarly, what about Moshe's and Tsipporah's and Yisro's feelings about what bnei Yisrael inflicted on Midian...

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  46. Student V, I will as soon as I get a chance. Please don't think that I ignoring you. I agree that I could have been more specific.

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  47. SV, the terrific drush in the post and the drush mentioned by Shechter were made up by the people who said them. Can a person say his own drush? Is it legitimate? Yes, it is. On rare occasions I do so myself. But there is a tnai - daas Torah. What it means in this context is that the person's mind is connected to the intend and spirit of the Torah. This is something that all of us should strive for. I have already quoted from Moreh (II:45) where Rambam explained that the first level in preparation for prophecy is when a person has a powerful desire to resist all forms of injustice. Moshe Rabbenu had developed this trait from an early age and demonstrated it when he killed the mizri and interceded on behalf of bnos Yisro. When Chazal tell us that when Moshe was born nismale habais orah the message is that this child was going to bring to us the knowledge of G-d and his just ways. When Torah tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu was ish haElokim it means that he was in his essence not an Egyptian or a Hebrew but a man of G-d, which is the perfection of man. What clothes he wore, or what language he spoke, or what was the etymology of his name was not important. This is a substantive rationalist explanation that I learn from Rambam and midrash and is what I tell my children by the Shabbos table. To make up a story of Moishe Rabbenu having an identity crisis and deciding to kill a mizri because he realized that he is a Hebrews and not because it is an act of justice shows lack of daas Torah (as defined here). This is not a Torah message or a message of the Torah and when said by a rabbinical figure is a Chillul Hashem because it brings people to ridicule Torah. What Rambam and midrash teach us is that Moshe Rabbenu acted only out of purest of intentions.


    Was I specific enough?

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  48. And now to the movie. I have not seen it and cannot comment on its specific merits or demerits. I can only say I love my pure faith in Torah AND Moshe Rabbenu and I don't think that a Hollywood production is helpful in transmitting it to my children. I base it on what I know about Hollywood. Also I think that most talmidei chachomim regardless of their haskofa will agree with this, veihi chelki imahem.

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  49. Poshiter Yid said...
    > Rav Hutner was a tzadik gamor, ergo there can be no "awful derush" from him, if he, in fact, said it.

    An interesting choice of words. A “tzadik” is a righteous person. Righteousness has nothing to do with proficiency in interpreting the Torah. Ergo, being a tzadik gamur has nothing to do with the validity of one’s derush.

    Rav Hutner was a talmid chacham, and I could certainly understand and agree if you were to say that one shouldn’t cavalierly dismiss the opinions of an accomplished scholar. But that wasn’t what you said.

    Your choice of words appears to reflect a belief that talmid chacham = tzadik. Someone who never opened a gemara but who spends his time helping others and who is careful to do mitzvos in the best possible way is not a tzadik? A talmid chacham who is mechalel Shabbos is a tzaddik? Clearly, the two are not the same thing.

    Carol said...
    > undermine the most important thing in Judaism - the Emunah!

    When did we become Protestants?

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  50. As I recall, R. Yaakov Emden in a footnote to the Rambam in Shemonah Perakim disagrees with the Rambam regarding the defeciency of wanting to transgress "mitzvos sichliyos", and says "kol hagadol machaveiro" can apply even to mitzvos sicliyos without detracting from the person's greatness)


    I believe that I had answered in my reply to SV why it cannot reflect a mental reality.

    Rambam is right imo. I think "kol hagadol machaveiro" refers exclusively to one's sexuality. In chazal stam yezer is yezer of arios. The explanation is as follows. Being a 'godol' in whatever field is a function of one's life energy. This energy expresses itself in one's specific talents and sexuality.

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  51. When did we become Protestants?

    Rambam explains that Emunah, by which he means pure monotheism, is the tachlis of kol haTorah kula. If Protestants think so as well good for them.

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  52. A professor of mine once said that the Ibn Ezra's point applies to Herzl as well. You weren't going to get an Eastern European Rav to travel in lofty circles and petition kings and emperors for a Jewish State. You needed, in his term (meant fondly), a "real goy."

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  53. "If we perceive Moshe as being Moshe Rabbeinu from day one, like all Gedolim are portrayed as being malachim from birth,"

    I'd say "most."

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  54. Further to Shimon S's summary, it is only the Torah part of the Septuagint that was composed in the 3rd century BCE -- this is the famous story of the 72 in Masechet Megilah 9a-b. The Nach part is probably somewhat later, but before the 1st Cent BCE. Septuagint texts were found among The Dead Sea Scrolls.

    There are some examples of differences among the Torah texts found in Qumran in pp. 103-109 of Geza Vermes's approachable "The Story of the Scrolls" (2010 Penguin).

    It is also worth remembering that our Masoretic text was not fixed until the 7th through 10th centuries CE (of course, based on oral mesora, but there were differences nonetheless that required standardization).

    Wikipedia has good entries for "Septuagint" and "Masoretic Text".

    Shabbat Shalom

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  55. On the issue Josh Waxman raises, I found this summary of the counter-explanation, but I have not studied this issue myself:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/920412/posts

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  56. Carol: Emunah (=belief in monotheism) is not significantly relevant to representations of Biblical events that are of varying possible accuracies, as they neither directly support polytheism or question monotheism.

    In my opinion, SOME of these representations are very useful as they can "bring to life" the text and place it in a context that allows for a better understanding of the events. For example, if Paroh and Moshe had been friends as this representation claims (or a similar relationship) the "hardening of Paroh's heart" could have been a result of the betrayal he felt from Moshe. While this is not necessarily what happened (but then again, neither is any other pshat) it could add quite a bit to our understanding of the narrative.

    ReplyDelete
  57. > Rambam explains that Emunah, by which he means pure monotheism, is the tachlis of kol haTorah kula. If Protestants think so as well good for them.

    This may come down to semantics, but: Emunah is usually translated as faith. Protestants (in a general sense) believe that to get into Heaven all one has to do is have faith (in their case, that Jesus is the son of God). Judaism puts far more emphasis on what you do (mitzvos) than on what you believe.

    If I had to make a choice, is it more important that I keep Shabbos or that I believe that Moshe was someone special? Which is more important to defining someone as an Orthodox Jew?

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  58. "I heard an absolutely awful derush in the name of Rav Hutner, namely that the explanation of "כְבַד פֶּה וּכְבַד לָשׁוֹן אָנֹכִי" is that Moshe could not speak Egyptian!"

    This "awful derush" is the p'shat of the Rashbam. Moshe was an old man at the burning bush, and had forgotten how to speak Egyptian properly.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Rashbam says that he had lost the fluency of the language not the he had forgotten it.

    ReplyDelete
  60. The hardening of paroh's heart was caused by G-d according to the Torah. Do you have a different example? I am listening.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This may come down to semantics, but: Emunah is usually translated as faith.

    No, the difference is substantive. To Rambam and his school of thought Emunah is knowledge og G-d and not some 'pintle yid' of Hassidus.

    Yes, a person can be a shomer Shabbos and not understand the uniqueness of nevuas Moshe Rabbenu. It's better than being a Christian that does understand it. It is better because one is closer to G-d in the former case. Was that your example?

    However, I feel that a rationalist Sunni Moslem is closer to G-d than a Lubavtcher meshichist or a Breslover invoking whatever he thinks he is invoking by singing na-na.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Nachum, let me add to your excellent point. Herzel is an example of a man that was larger than life similar to Moshe Rabbenu. His memoirs are one of my favorite books. He mentions there that he felt a higher calling to dedicate his life to his people. This is ruach Hashem imo.

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  63. a major theme of the entire Exodus is hakaras hatov (gratitude) - with two notable examples being Moshe not being able to smite the river and the dust, both of which saved him. Even though this was not a conscious act on the part of the river and the dust, Moshe nevertheless felt hakaros hatov towards them.

    Where did he find hakoras hatov in the text? Midrashim on any one of chumashim are full of these ideas but the story of Exodus? We have izias mizraim, matan Torah, mishpotim, chet haegel, the mishkan but hakoras hatov man dchar shmey? Please help me with this one. Poshuter, aecha?

    ReplyDelete
  64. ' Judaism puts far more emphasis on what you do (mitzvos) than on what you believe.'

    Judaism of today yes, but not Judaism of Rambam. According to Rambam monotheistic faith is the goal and mitzvos are the means to that goal rather than sacraments.

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  65. Tom, to me joshwaxman is an example academic approach and weather I agree or not with his posts they do not make me furious or disappointed. I relate to him on his academic terms. The 'droshos' in this post are from the leading Orthodox Rabbis and are typical in their complete disrespect for Toras Hashem as I have explained in my comments on this post. I am disappointed because I don't think that they have a value from either academic or rationalist perspective.

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  66. ' Judaism puts far more emphasis on what you do (mitzvos) than on what you believe.'

    Judaism of today yes, but not Judaism of Rambam. According to Rambam monotheistic faith is the goal and mitzvos are the means to that goal rather than sacraments.


    And that was one of Rambam's unfortunate ways of fitting Judaism into Greco-Muslim philosophy. There's much for which to be grateful to Rambam, but not this.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Why was Rambam wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  68. Another view is that Rambam side-stepped the debate with his chiddush at the beginning of the Mishne Torah:

    האל הנכבד והנורא הזה מצוה לאהבו וליראה אותו

    In other words, he explicitly inserted belief into behavior. This then compelled him to explain what he meant by belief in More Nevuchim et al.

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  69. "Tom, to me joshwaxman is an example academic approach and weather I agree or not with his posts they do not make me furious or disappointed. I relate to him on his academic terms. The 'droshos' in this post are from the leading Orthodox Rabbis and are typical in their complete disrespect for Toras Hashem as I have explained in my comments on this post. I am disappointed because I don't think that they have a value from either academic or rationalist perspective."

    Carol - see Baruch Pelta's prediction about academic/rationalist Jews: "The famous Rationalist Jew who tried to deal with the very difficult questions surrounding the Bible's veracity felt a radical theological revolution to preserve the intellectual integrity of his community was necessary and it ended him quite outside of Orthodoxy; that figure, Louis Jacobs, should loom large in any speculation on the future of Rationalist Judaism."

    See it at his website Baruch's Thoughts.

    IIRC, Baruch Pelta was a strong supporter of "Rationalist Judaism."

    ReplyDelete
  70. Tom, to your point on Louis Jacobs, one thing to consider is that halachic Jews who articulate their rationalist views on belief, are often villified as heretics by their brethren.

    Most, therefore, minimize what they say. And of those that feel compelled to write about it, some conclude it is not rational to affiliate with the Orthodoxy (which after all is a modern invention) that rejects them.

    The reality, in any case, is that at least in the US, the denominational movements are losing ground, while at the same time there has been unforecasted growth in Jews identifying themselves as "Jews by Religion" but not affiliated with a movement. See slide 9 in the newly published Brandeis study: http://tinyurl.com/38lfjto

    ReplyDelete
  71. Tom, thanks for references. I will check them out properly

    ReplyDelete
  72. R.NS: "And that was one of Rambam's unfortunate ways of fitting Judaism into Greco-Muslim philosophy. There's much for which to be grateful to Rambam, but not this."

    1. Re. 'Greco-Muslim": Are Maxwell's equations English? Is General Relativity German?

    2. Re. "... fitting Judaism into Greco-Muslim philosophy": Punkt verkehrt! Rambam "fit" "Greco-Muslim philosophy" into נבואת משה רבנו
    . That is why is he shows the way toward "fitting" current חכמות אומות העולם "into" נבואת משה.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Hagyan - I think you're going to have a hard time with this one. R' Slifkin has stated here many times before that the Rambam injected the foreign philosophy of the Greeks and Muslims into Judaism. That is, what the Rambam calls Judaism is not really authentic Judaism; it is his perversion of Judaism from Greek and Muslim philosophy. As his primary sources, he quotes the Gr"a, you know the passage that was debated amongst his first generation students as to whether or not it was interpolated, and the letter by R. S. R. Hirsch.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Actually my primary source is the Rambam himself in numerous places. The Gra and Rav Hirsch are sources that I use to show that even traditionalists are aware of this, aside from it being the universal consensus of modern academic scholars. But expecting people like Tom to acknowledge it is like expecting Isaac Betech to acknowledge evolution.

    ReplyDelete
  75. B"H

    Natan Slifkin said:
    But expecting people like Tom to acknowledge it is like expecting Isaac Betech to acknowledge evolution.

    IB:
    I am ready, if you present just one scientific proof... are you ready?

    ReplyDelete
  76. RS,Doctor, somebody can you please tell me why Rambam was wrong? What is the correct understanding?

    ReplyDelete
  77. Tom, thanks again for the links. I checked out Boruch Pelta's and Louis Bernards' sites. Both are, obviously, completely off the derech. If you are worried that I may go that way let me assure you that it is impossible because I went to H.U. And am immune to this type of kfira. I am more likely to become a Jewiish talibanista, lol.

    Boruch very eloquently debunks dishonest kiruv tactics but his academic reasons against Torah mihashamaim are silly imo. Here is one example. He writes that meaningless tribal genealogies are a proof that Torah is not divine. My son explained, in the spirit of Rambam, that on the contrary the geneologies served and still serve a very important purpose. Ancient rulers like paroh believed that they were divine. The geneologies show their true origins and thus are important in eradicating idol worship and establishing true faith which is the main purpose of the commandments.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Regarding Rambam, see this post:

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2010/11/revolutionizing-rambams-revolutions.html

    ReplyDelete
  79. I have re-read the post but I don't understand how it explains your comment below

    According to Rambam monotheistic faith is the goal and mitzvos are the means to that goal rather than sacraments.

    And that was one of Rambam's unfortunate ways of fitting Judaism into Greco-Muslim philosophy. There's much for which to be grateful to Rambam, but not this.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Read the first few chapters of Menachem Kellner's "Must a Jew Believe Anything" to see how Rambam's elitist emphasis on the primacy of the intellect and his devaluing of actions was not in conformance with Judaism either before or after him.

    ReplyDelete
  81. I wrote: "R' Slifkin has stated here many times before that the Rambam injected the foreign philosophy of the Greeks and Muslims into Judaism. That is, what the Rambam calls Judaism is not really authentic Judaism; it is his perversion of Judaism from Greek and Muslim philosophy."

    R' Slifkin responded: "Actually my primary source is the Rambam himself in numerous places."

    Please tell us where - even once - the Rambam wrote that he is injecting foreign matter into Judaism and perverting it, rather than saying that Greek philosophy is in agreement (on the particular point he is discussing) with authentic Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Obviously Rambam himself did not believe that he was doing this!

    Look, Tom, we've seen on numerous occasions that you're fundamentally ideologically opposed to much of modern scholarship, which goes against popular traditionalist beliefs. This forum is just not for you, okay?

    ReplyDelete
  83. Well...not okay. I agree with some of what you say, and disagree with some of what you say. Are you now stating that unless one agrees with you on most everything, this forum is not for that person? I think that modern scholarship has a valid, proper place in explaining things, but that it does not substitute for rationality (not "rationalism"), and that there are axiomatic principles (according to some but not to others) that make Judaism Judaism, which modern scholarship cannot replace. Your "closed mindedness" in suggesting that I leave is very surprising.

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  84. This forum is designed for people with the same basic epistemology and worldview. While I tolerate occasional diversions via people such as Isaac Betech and Poshiter Yid and yourself - people for whom everything must be fitted into a certain narrow religious perspective - it's not who this forum is aimed for and it's not the type of participation that I want to incorporate on a regular basis.

    Incidentally, no doubt Isaac Betech would also make the same claims as you re. being rational. So would the flat-earthers of the 19th century.

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  85. R.NS, Tom (maybe) & Carol (maybe),

    Re. my earlier comment

    1. My earlier point #1 is important. An amendment: מצות עשה א as a whole is decisively not "Greco-Muslim", notwithstanding the formulations of several of its constituent clauses. (Nor is מצוה, its genus.)

    2. My earlier point #2 can be seen as follows. Consider the subject matter of the Organon taken as a whole. For brevity, call that L. All of (Aristotelian) "Greco-Muslim philosophy" emerges from L. One finds that L is meta to קידוש השם הגדול, but that מצות עשה א is meta to L.

    (Prudence in the vicinity of IEDs restrains me from saying more.)

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  86. Hogan, please say more. What is קידוש השם הגדולל

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  87. Avi Katz said:
    I think you need to make an important distinction between before and after Matan Torah. After Matan Torah, Moshe Rabeinu had the status of a Malach; see Meshech Chachma, Introduction to Sefer Shemot. Moshe Rabeinu’s prophecy is irrefutable and timeless'


    Rambam in Maamar Tchias Hameisim writes:
    If one of the multitude refuses to believe [that angels are incorporeal]
    and prefers to believe that angels have bodies and even that they eat, since it is written (Genesis 18:8) 'they ate', or that those who exist in the World to Come will also have bodies—we won't hold it against him or consider him a heretic, and we will not distance ourselves from him. May there not be many who profess this folly, and let us hope that he will go no farther than this in his folly and believe that the Creator is corporeal.

    In Moreh Rambam explains that angels are forces of nature.

    I have not seen this Meshech Chocma inside and cannot comment on it directly.

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  88. Carol,

    On this thread that's about "The Prince of Egypt", I'm starting to feel like a guest that's overstayed his welcome.

    Here's one bit on קידוש השם הגדול, and then you're welcome to e-mail me. (I apologize in advance if this sounds simplistic, but since I've never seen this mitsvah taught in a yeshivah, I just have no idea what other people think about it.)

    At הל' יסודי התורה ה/א the רמב"ם uses the language "על קידוש השם הגדול הזה". I think "הזה" refers to (approximately/crudely) "the fruit of דבר גדול (the preceding 4 chapters) condensed into a single piece of information". Then, קידוש השם הגדול is the way we are required to "handle" this information. For לא תחללו analogously. In מקרא these appear adjacent to פרשיות about the conduct of the בית המקדש; I think that's because בית המקדש is the "quintessential" scenario for the application of these מצוות.

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  89. See mima'amakim al haTorah (which I know you may philosophically oppose) for a great discussion of Moshe's having had to come out of Beit Paroh in order to prove that he could be great despite negative beginnings. Also in Maharal.

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  90. Prove to whom may I ask?

    Hogan, this is fascinating, tnx!

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  91. [COMMENT-BOX OVERFLOW. SEGMENT 1/2]

    Tom,

    Re. Your comment to me on Sunday at 23:02 IST

    Tom: "I think you're going to have a hard time with this one. R' Slifkin has stated here many times before that the Rambam injected the foreign philosophy of the Greeks and Muslims into Judaism. [...]"

    After 2 days your comment relieved me of מבוכה. Many thanks.

    Let's say I read some proposition in the Rambam, P. Typically, I'll find it hard and will have to work a lot to arrive at what I think the Rambam's meaning, M(P;ר), is. I will have exercised such כוחות as I presently have for arriving at a state of conviction. I may only really have M(P;ה). At this point: [1] I may assert that P is true; or [2] I may assert that P is false; or [3] I may be unable to exclude that P is true. [1] and [2] correspond to states of my conviction, whereas [3] is a kind of neutral state. For this discussion let's ignore [3], not because it's uncommon (!), but because it's the "odd man out" and involves different issues.

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  92. [COMMENT-BOX OVERFLOW. SEGMENT 2/2]

    It's when I've arrived to this point that I can most benefit from an authority's interpretation of the meaning of P, M(P;ג). M(P;ג) indicates not only an "answer", but also the authority's exercise of his כוחות for arriving at conviction. The biggest "payback" to me, potentially, is that I get a chance to evaluate how rational my כוחות are, and that's a chance, potentially, even to critique my "epistemology" (R' Slifkin's term).

    If, at this later point, I have sustained M(P;ה), i.e. I assert that the Rambam's proposition, P, is true, then I find it untenable to characterize P as "foreign", any more than I would characterize Maxwell's Equations as "foreign".

    My מבוכה was relieved when I noticed that 'foreign' is a שם משותף: something can be 'foreign' either because [1] it conflicts with the opinions I have, say, via acculturation; or [2] it is inconsistent with the phenomena.

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  93. Hagyan - you're very welcome. It's what I do...

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  94. I disagree. He returned to Egypt after an absence of 60 years, to one under a different Pharaoh, a Pharaoh he likely never met. He may have been conflicted when he killed the Egyptian and fled the country. But he'd be a total stranger to the new regime and to everyone in the Palace. Several generations would have likely passed, even.

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  95. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzDecember 25, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Elon Weintraub

    While Prof. Yoel Elitzur questions the commonly accepted wisdom of thedating of the exodus and the reference to Ramses II as the Pharaoh of the Exodus, it's still worth noting that it is well documented that Ramsess II ruled for over 65 years.

    So even if you take the 60 year absence midrash literally, it still does not definitevly rule out the fact that the Pharaoh of the plagues was the same person Moses grew up with.

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  96. "Hakaros hatov is not an intellectual position; it is an emotional sentiment."

    I don't think that's accurate. When the Torah commands, "You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land," it would seem that it's commanding us to have gratitude for the Egyptian intellectually, even if we don't otherwise feel any emotionally.

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  97. There is a Medresh that supports your thesis. see מדרש רבה פר' ואתחנן

    Moshe was punished with not being buried in Eretz Yisroel, because when the daughters of Yisro introduce him as their savior, he did not deny their claims that he was an Ish Mitzri. in fact he just remind silent. However, even his silence the medresh calls, כפירה בארצו!there most likely was some sort of conflict inside, if that was not the case, what did he do wrong? after all he was born and raised in Egypt. So he was technically an Ish Mitzri.

    I suggest the possibility, because of the fact that he torn between both worlds. he remained silent.

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  98. There is an even more compelling ambiguity in the P'Shat:

    וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן, וַיִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ גֵּרְשֹׁם: כִּי אָמַר--גֵּר הָיִיתִי, בְּאֶרֶץ נָכְרִיָּה.

    It sure sounds like Moshe considers himself to be in a foreign land because he is in Midyan and not in Egypt.

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  99. The absence is not a Midrash. He was 80 when he came back. And we know not when he left, but it would seem he killed the Egyptian quite soon after growing up.

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  100. Brooklyn Refugee SheygitzDecember 26, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    Yehezkal Moskowitz

    How do you think that midrash plays out with the American charedi leaders who say that are "americans". for example Avi Shafran's statements in this article
    http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/153164/promised-land-golden-land/2


    such as
    "Few non-Orthodox American Jews, will ever move to Israel—and most Orthodox American Jews aren’t likely to do so anytime soon either. It’s not for lack of appreciation or love of the Holy Land; it’s just a reality. Whether for economic, social, cultural or yes, even religious reasons, most American Jews, the Orthodox included, have chosen to remain, at least for now, in the Diaspora. That’s neither an indictment nor a defense, only a fact. But the Jewish identity and continuity of Orthodox Americans who see their aliyah as dependent on the Messiah will not suffer for their continuing sojourn on these shores."

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  101. Off topic, but of interest to us...

    http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Court-orders-new-elections-in-Beit-Shemesh-nullifies-old-results-due-to-massive-fraud-336240

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  102. Shlomo, thanks for the heads-up. See the latest post.

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  103. Carol,

    " I have already quoted from Moreh (II:45) where Rambam explained that the first level in preparation for prophecy is when a person has a powerful desire to resist all forms of injustice. Moshe Rabbenu had developed this trait from an early age and demonstrated it when he killed the mizri and interceded on behalf of bnos Yisro. "

    That sounds like one explanation among many possible explanations.

    "When Chazal tell us that when Moshe was born nismale habais orah the message is that this child was going to bring to us the knowledge of G-d and his just ways. When Torah tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu was ish haElokim it means that he was in his essence not an Egyptian or a Hebrew but a man of G-d"

    Again this sounds like one explanation among many possible explanations, and yet you label this (your very valid understanding) as "Daas Torah" while anything contrary or unique from this view is therefore in violation of daas Torah and not a valid drush (and even a chillul Hashem!)? Not sure where that approach comes from.

    "What Rambam and midrash teach us is that Moshe Rabbenu acted only out of purest of intentions."

    Not sure why you would see a decision to embrace his Hebrew identity over his Egyptian upbringing as an "impure" intention.

    Btw, thanks for responding to my query, and sorry I took so long to reply back to you!

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  104. truth no matter the consequencesDecember 27, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    do you know where this can be found in rav kluger's sefarim? (on the aish website, rav cardozo sais it in the name of an unknown author)

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  105. Rabbi Cardozo doesn't seem to remember the mekor and I couldn't see it in Kluger's Imrei Shefer: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=38352&st=&pgnum=71

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  106. On the matter of Moshe's name, is it Egyptian or Hebrew? The common scholarly opinion is that it is the Egyptian equivalent of "Sonny" or "Junior" to which the Israelites and the Torah attribute a Hebrew based meaning involving water drawing or being drawn from water. (Moshe means "Drawer" for "One who was Drawn") The whole thing is a "Tzarich Iyyun Gadol". According to the scholarly position, Bitiya would not have been one to call him Mosheh because she drew him from the water.

    One day I was reading a book on Egyptian mythology written by a woman who actually wants to revive egyptian avodah zarah in modern times. Obviously she is in no way influenced by Frumkeit. And she points out something which I believe answers everything splendidly. I have tried to verify this online and although I am no Egyptologist, it looks quite solid to me.

    The root M SH H in Egyptian means "Crocodile." Bitiya used it most likely as a nick. She called her adopted son "Crocodile" because she drew him from the water. The Israelites called Moshe by that nick because because he drew them out of bondage (and literal drowning)

    I think this is really cool. To the best of my knowledge there is no midrash or Jewish commentary that knows the egyptian meaning of Moshe's name. If so, might this not be solid indication of a real egyptian sojourn in our collective history?

    BTW this is my very first post on this blog, although I have admired it, and you as well Harav Natan for your Mesirut Nefesh for Torah and Emmet. I first encountered your books on Torah and biology before your "fall from grace." I was learning in a Kabbalah Yeshiva at the time, and my Havruta commented on your Yirat Shamayim and the deep respect you have for Hazal.
    May you continue to have many blessings and much success!

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  107. מֹשֶׁה and הַמִּצְרִי share a gematria of 345: Moses, as it were, discarded that secular Egyptian aspect of himself and buried it בַּחוֹל, in the sand, which alludes to חוּלִין, secular (Rabbi Mayer Goldberg, a pupil of Rav Kook).

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