Moses & The Short Hills Mall

So, what’s the big deal with Moses?  Why did God pick him and why did the ancient rabbis absolutely adore him?

In just a few verses in the second chapter of Exodus, we get a pretty good idea of the kind of person Moses was and why we are still talking about him all these years later.

First, he saw an Egyptian master beating a Hebrew slave.  He interceded on behalf of the slave and ultimately killed the Egyptian.  The next day, he saw two Hebrew slaves fighting amongst themselves and once again he interceded trying to save two oppressed individuals from themselves.

Then, after fleeing Egypt out of fear that the Pharaoh would kill him for his actions, he came upon the daughters of Jethro at a well.  They were being chased away from the well by male shepherds even though they had arrived there first.  Yet again, Moses interceded and defended the daughters of Jethro against the other shepherds.

Three times, Moses saw injustice – a master abusing a slave, two slaves taking out their frustrations upon one another and men mistreating women.  All three times, Moses acted.

How many of us can say that when we see something wrong in the world we immediately act?  In answering that question, we see what was so remarkable about Moses.  Not only did Moses respond to those three small – but not small! – incidents, but ultimately his conscience – with a little help from God! – drove him back to Egypt in order to bring Hebrew slavery to an end.

We need a Moses as badly today as those Hebrew slaves needed Moses back then.

Not only do we need individuals to respond to single acts of injustice – like a shooting at the Short Hills Mall.  We need at least one leader with the conviction to bring the maddening, illogical, deadly culture of gun violence in this country to an end.

While all of us here in New Jersey were all appalled at the thought that a man could be shot and killed in the parking garage of the Short Hills Mall – the suburban mecca of high-end retail – how many of us did anything differently the next day?  I drove by the Short Hills Mall Monday evening – the day after the shooting – and the parking lot was as crammed as ever.

It didn’t change us a bit.  We’ve become numb to the violence.

Maybe, if the day after that shooting the mall were empty – and maybe the next day too! –  then politicians would be inclined to do something about gun violence.

Moses, where are you when we need you?





About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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