He’s Da Man: Bo 2023

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Who is the most popular person you know? Have they “earned” their popularity? Does anyone resent them for their popularity?

As Pharaoh suffers humiliations galore during the Ten Plagues, it must sting even more to know that even his own loyalists like Moses even more:

The Pitch: “The Lord disposed the Egyptians favorably toward the people. Moreover, the Man Moses was much esteemed in the land of Egypt, among Pharaoh’s courtiers and among the people.” – Exodus 11:3

Swing #1: “‘[This] is the only place in the Pentateuch where Moses is referred to in such a distancing manner, and that phrasing is especially conspicuous because it occurs after the reader has already become totally familiar with the figure of Moses. Even more significant, it is the only verse in the Hebrew Bible that alludes to Moses’ important Egyptian position.” – Jan Assmann, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism

Swing #2: “There were friendships between Egyptians and Israelites. The Egyptians felt a need to compensate their departing neighbors, or perhaps simply to outfit them for their journey out of Egypt.” – Avraham Burg, Very Near To You: Human Readings of the Torah

Swing #3: “It is rare that a man should be accepted and respected in equal measure by the aristocracy and by the masses. In most cases a man who is popular with the masses will be hated by the higher society, and he who enjoys the respect of the upper classes will be disliked by the common people, for each class of society has its own standards and requirements. What was so unusual about the personality of Moses was that he was respected not only by ‘Pharaoh’s servants’, Egypt’s nobility, but also by the Egyptian masses.” – HaDrash VeHaEyun

Late-Inning Questions: How do you think Moses feels about becoming a popular figure in Egypt? If you were him, would it have distracted you from the mission to lead the Israelite slaves to freedom? Is Moses’ humble disposition a major reason why God chooses him to lead the people? Can we measure a popular person’s character by how s/he handles the public’s adulation?

On-Deck at Temple Beth Tzedek: At services this Saturday, we will hear from Macie Clawson of Jewish Family Services of Western New York. Macie will speak about the collaboration between TBT and JFSWNY and of opportunities to take full advantage of what JFSWNY has to offer. Hope you’ll join us. 

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of popularity, it might surprise you to know that the best-selling baseball jersey of all time (as of October 2022) is that of … L.A. Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts. Nothing against Betts, who’s a fantastic player and seems to be a good guy, but I never thought his jersey would sell more than those of Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, or even Derek Jeter.

Shabbat Shalom!