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    Moses & the magicians – Va’era

    Moses had to work hard to impress Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Several times he tried to bring about one of the Ten Plagues, the court magicians capped it by emulating the particular plague (Ex. 7:11).

    Moses & Pharaoh’s magicians (Gerard Hoet, 1728)

    In the end, as we all know, the magicians had to give up the struggle, told the king that they were battling a higher power (“It must be the finger of God!”: Ex.8:15) and the plagues took their course.

    An ancient contest, but history repeats itself in the idiom of every generation. Our version is the battle between character and charisma, between logic and magnetism.

    In a synagogue I knew they rejected an applicant for the post of chazan, not because he was insufficiently pious or learned or could not sing, but because a different candidate had more television presence. What have we come to if we want the magicians more than Moses?

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