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    The Haggadah left Moses out

    The Rothschild Haggadah, 1479

    Moses comes only once in the Haggadah, in an incidental quotation. It was the Jewish people who decided to leave him out.

    You would think it was logical to call Pesach the Festival of Moses. But big-noting Moses would have given the impression that it was he who took the people out of slavery.

    The sages insisted that God alone should get the credit; the Midrash makes God say, “It was I who brought the people out of Egypt – I and not an angel, I and not an agent, I and nobody else”. All that Moses got in the Haggadah was an incidental nod.

    The next opportunity Moses had to become a hero was Shavu’ot, when it was he who ascended Mount Sinai to fetch the tablets of the Torah.

    One would think Shavu’ot would be the Festival of Moses. But the verdict was against him this time too, and Shavu’ot became the festival of King David.

    What gave David the edge was not his kingly status but the fact that God was the one who gave the Torah even though David founded the dynasty from whom Mashi’ach will emerge.

    Could not the case for Moses have outweighed this argument? Wasn’t he a great leader and poet, did he not mould Israel into a nation and launch Jewish history? Was it not he who established both the Written and the Oral Torah?

    But Moses was not a people-person. David had folk appeal; Moses was an authority figure whom everyone respected but did not always love as one of their own.

    Moses suffered on Shavu’ot as on Pesach – to give God the ultimate credit.

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