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    Moses & the showmen – Va’era

    Whatever Moses did, the Egyptian magicians were able to counter it (Ex. 7:11).

    Moses & Pharaoh's magicians, by Gerard Hoet, 1728

    Moses & Pharaoh’s magicians, by Gerard Hoet, 1728

    In today’s world, Moses wouldn’t have stood a chance.

    The magicians were masters of show, while Moses was a mere stutterer. On television Moses wouldn’t have lasted a moment. He hadn’t an ounce of charisma.

    From the perspective of history, however, judged by the criteria of a pre-television age, Moses had the more substance, and that’s why the Torah says (Ex. 14:31) that the people “believed in God and in Moses His servant” (possibly the words mean, “and that Moses was His servant”).

    The lesson we learn is that no-one, not even a rabbi, especially not a rabbi, should be judged by spell-binding oratory or flamboyant theatricality.

    Some people are masters of magic, capable of manipulating minds and hearts, either for the wrong purpose or for no purpose at all other than the pleasure that they get out of wielding their magic.

    Not that putting on a show is necessarily always bad, but the rational person should always ask, “What’s behind the theatrics?”

    The rational person should never be swayed by the drama. It’s harder to ask the hard questions, but without them no decision will ever have real validity.

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