Popular Articles

On Moses & Violence In The Torah

“What Moses would do about Iran if he were leading our people in our day?”

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Speaking out when your opinion may make you unpopular is often a good thing, and Moshe Phillips believes that in 1969 author Howard Singer did exactly that. (Image: Ebay)

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Rarely has a book I picked up in a dusty used bookstore shocked me as did the volume I bought over two decades ago titled Bring Forth the Mighty Men; On Violence and the Jewish Character by Howard Singer (published by Funk and Wagnalls in 1969). The title alone inspired the purchase, I had not heard of Singer or his book before that.

I expected the book to be a tirade calling for nonviolence at all costs. I was deeply mistaken.

I have reread one passage from the book every year as we approach the Parshat Shemot, the first weekly Torah portion in the book of Exodus. It is in my opinion this selection may be especially well worth sharing in its entirety this year as questions about leadership and preemptive self-defense may be on our minds more and more with the the challenges facing Israel from both Iran and its proxies just as Netanyahu’s new government takes power.

An excerpt:

The Bible tells us of only three incidents from (Moses’) youth. In two of them Moses himself offers violence, but in reaction against another’s violence.

The first occurs when Moses sees an Egyptian smiting a Jew: “And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.” Exodus 2:12

The second occurs when Moses sees a Jew inflicting violence on another Jew: “And he said to him that did the wrong ‘Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?’ ” But the Jew “that did the wrong,” the violent one, succeeds in defying Moses. “Thinkest thou to kill me, as thou didst kill the Egyptian?” And Moses feared, and said, ‘surely the thing is known.’ ” Exodus 2:13-14

Moses flees Egypt and the third incident occurs in Midian: “Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock.” Exodus 2:16-17 We are not told how he helped them but later the girls use a strong term to describe what he did. “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds.” There was a hint, perhaps a full threat, of violence.

That is all. With incredible economy – the three incidents are told in only nine verses in the second chapter of Exodus – the great point is made. Moses is not pathetic, marrowless and weak. He does not preach meekness because he is himself the perennial victim. Moses is a natural aristocrat with a ferocious hatred of injustice, and in the three incidents the Bible describes, injustice takes the ugly form of physical violence. And this is the man whom G-d decides is worthy of receiving the Divine revelation on Sinai.

Get thej.ca a Pro Israel Voice by Email. Never miss a top story that effects you, your family & your community

Over the years I have found out very little about Howard Singer. What I have discovered in my research is that he is a graduate of JTS and was the pulpit rabbi at several non-Orthodox congregations in both New York and New England. He is described on one website as “long retired” and l was also able to learn that he served as an Army chaplain during the Korean War. He wrote about his experiences in Korea for the Saturday Evening Post in 1954.

Another curious thing I found out about Howard Singer is that in the aftermath of a different article in the Post he wrote in 1967 he was the subject of criticism for speaking out on “inter-religious dialogues between Jews and Christians.” JTA reported that he was condemned for “declaring that such dialogues were reaching “epidemic” proportions, (and having) called the discussions “ineffectual” as well as “dangerous and insulting to Jews.”

Speaking out when your opinion may make you unpopular is often a good thing. More rabbis in Canada and the United States should be speaking out today against assimilation and also taking stronger public stands against dangerous Jew-haters like our enemies in Iran’s government as well as those in North America.

Questions may be able to be made on the subject of what Moses would do about Iran if he were leading our people in our day as well as how he may respond to other contemporary threats to us. However thanks to this small passage from Bring Forth the Mighty Men I believe that one side may have an easier case to argue than the other.

Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press. He was a U.S. delegate to the 38th World Zionist Congress in 2020. His views are his own.

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Previous
Next

Read More

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

cOMING SOON…….

Breaking News

Recent

Features

News

Current Events

Opinions

Politics

Religion

Culture

Memoriam and Obituaries

PodcastS

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved