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In Rescuing A Beaten Slave,
Moses Becomes A Leader
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JEWISH CULTURAL SOCIETY
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KETER TORAH SYNAGOGUE
5480 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield, (248)
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21100 W. 12 Mile, Southfield, 48076 (248) 386-1625.
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crowd, to act differently than those
Moses' refusal to merely follow
the crowd led the way to his being
recognized by God as a potential
leader and the greatest story our tra-
dition ever told: redemption from
n 1982, during my first year
as a rabbi, Time magazine
But, one more aspect of the story
broke with its usual year-end
be noted. While Moses might
tradition. It did not name a
an eesh, he remained
"Person of the Year." Rather, the
In fact, in one
magazine named a "Machine of the
place in the Torah, the words are
Year" — the personal computer,
used together: "v'haeesh
which was beginning
Moshe anav," the eesh
change the way we lived.
I recall that parshat
difficult to take a
(Torah portion) Shemot, the
first section of Exodus, was
from others. But, it is clear
being read on the Shabbat
that those who do this
following Time's announce-
also retain humility
ment; and I could not resist
not their actions,
makino- b a connection with
the words of the parshah.
Twenty-one years later,
RABBI ROBERT this way and that and saw
while we might all be accus-
no one that was deserving
tomed or resigned to the
recognition as different
reality of computers con-
any others so they
trolling many aspects of our
to a machine to
lives, the connection still
year. It is obvi-
ous that more and more of our lives
In one of the first stories told
are turned over to forces of technol-
about Moses, he witnesses an
ogy. But, we don't have to throw
Egyptian beating a Hebrew. The
away our computers to be a human
Torah says: "Vayifen koh v'cho vayaar
being. We just need to retain our
ki ayn eesh," he looked this way and
and use our energy to
that and saw that there was no eesh,
help perfect the world.
no man, and struck the Egyptian
It is so fitting that we observe
and hid him in the sand.
Luther King Day around the
The commentators wonder what
year that we read the
the real meaning of the phrase: "He
of the Book of Exodus.
saw that there was no man." Some
is always in need of men
say that Moses wanted to make sure
and women like Dr. King, alav
that he did not strike him in the
hashalom, who stand up for what
presence of witnesses. But, others
believe with a vision of peace,
say that Moses looked around to see
and mutual respect for all.
if anyone was going to be an eesh, a
it is Dr. King or Moses or
human being, and stop this beating.
it is their words and
When he saw that no one else would
do it, Moses did not walk the other
children, as we
way, did not leave it for the next
person, did not wait for someone to
help him, but took on the responsi-
In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our
Fathers), we read that Hillel says: "in
Exodus I : 1-6: I ; Isaiah
the place where there are no human
beings, try to be a human being."
This seems like a simple task, but it
is so difficult in fact to break the
mold, to break away from the
Robert Dobrusin is rabbi of Beth
Israel Congregation in Ann Arbor: His
e-mail address is
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