Life of the Party
Pharaoh and Moses conduct a basic debate as to the meaning of celebration and worship. In Pharaoh’s worldview, celebration is an adults-only event and worship is a somber business.
The Jewish view is completely at odds:
“So Moses and Aaron were returned to Pharaoh and he said to them, “Go and serve God, your God. Who will be going?
Moses said, “With our youngsters and with our elders shall we go; with our sons and with our daughters, with our flock and with our cattle shall we go, because it is a festival of God for us.” Exodus 10:8-9
“Not so; let the men go now and serve God, for that is what you seek. And he drove them out of Pharaoh’s presence.” Exodus 10:11
The composition of the ‘Exodus’ party becomes the breaking point during the final negotiations between Moses and Pharaoh. Only after the tenth and last plague, the Plague of the Firstborns (see dramatic rendition below), does Pharaoh relent and allow everyone; women, children and livestock to leave to the purported celebration.
Pharaoh has trouble comprehending or allowing for children to be part of celebration or worship. He does not understand that worship of our Deity can be festive in nature. Rabbi Hizkiyahu ben Manoach (Hizkuni) explains that because it is a festival the children are not only preferable, but required. Without children, according to Moses and the Jewish tradition, there is no party.
May we always have opportunity to be surrounded by our children for celebration, worship and all festive occasions.
To the Sao Paulo families of Gerta and Moni Benedek and to Yudith and David Wulcan for their warm and exquisite hosting. It was a real treat to celebrate Shabbat with them and the accompaniment of their family members.
To Ari and Esther Jacobs on the further expansion of their family, with the engagement of Yehudah to Atara Piha of Neve Daniel. Mazal Tov!