Correction and explanation
May 22, 2020
Rabbi Sanford Olshansky—adjunct professor, Judaic Studies Program, UCF—pointed out an error in Gloria Yousha’s “Scene Around” column in the Heritage, May 8 issue.
He writes, “in her ‘Shout Out’ about the Passover Haggadah, Ms. Yousha complains that Moses is not mentioned, saying ‘He was the most important part of the story as he led our people out of Egypt and into the promised land of Israel.’ But God, not Moses, is ‘the most important part of the story.’ In the biblical book of Exodus, God hears the cry of the Israelites in their affliction. At the burning bush, God recruits a reluctant Moses to be God’s agent and spokesman to Pharaoh. Then God sends miraculous plagues to force Pharaoh to release the Israelites and saves the Israelites from Pharaoh’s pursuing army by splitting the sea for them.
“Our early rabbis deliberately left Moses out of the traditional Passover Haggadah so that people would not be confused about who liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. They didn’t want people who had not read the biblical story to think that Moses, a human being, performed the miracles, which the Bible attributes to God. In a traditional Haggadah, Moses is mentioned only once, in a direct quotation of a Bible verse. Some modern Haggadah editions have departed from tradition and put Moses back into the narrative. I hope that most readers of those are not so confused as Ms. Yousha about who freed the Israelites.”