Like Mordecai and Esther, Moses Also Deserves Eternal Rest

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“The Death of Moses,” by Alexandre Cabanel (1851).

“Don’t forget that Friday is the holiday eve,” the page editor warned me. The problem is, I told him, I already wrote about the new king, whose heart God hardened intentionally; and about his daughter as one of the righteous among the nations. And about the stiff-necked people, at any moment willing to give up its salvation; and about the Haggadah and “pour out your wrath.” All that and more – what didn’t I write about? And I already expressed this opinion more than once: We survived Pharaoh, but it’s not certain we’ll survive this, too.

“You’ll find a story with some wisdom in it; you’re good at stories,” he said. His wish is my command. And so here you have it:

When we lived in the Galilee, the spirit of the place moved me. The air of the Land of Israel makes one wise, the old saying goes, and the mountain air is inspiring.

Many thoughts sprouted in my heart back then – including one business thought as well. I never tried my hand at business, but I had plenty of airy ideas for businesses.

We immediately noticed that we were surrounded on all sides by the graves of holy men, and the cries of those who prostrated themselves on them rose to the heavens.

“Hold on,” I said. “Why don’t we bring succor to their suffering, dress their injured souls and bodies? Remuneration for a good deed is not just a good deed, we learned as we traveled the region; it’s also a contribution when the heart is moved. Because there are no free spiritual lunches. And because we’ll have a good business that does good, too, its reward will be in this world as well as the next.”

I remember the moment when the decision was made. Suddenly, near Kibbutz Baram, we ran into the “burial place of Mordecai and Esther, may their merits protect us, amen.” And we were amazed: were the days of the messiah here already, that the dead had begun to tunnel underground to the Land of Israel?

Now all we had to do was choose the righteous departed one after whom to call the site, whose name would be called upon by believers.

Who could be more suitable than Moses, of whom the Bible says, “No man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day”? And in this way, we would repair a little of the injustice caused this great man, who ate manna and his heart out for 40 years, and in the end didn’t even get a visa. The time has come to stand up and avenge his honor. Not only does he have no gravestone, his memory was almost wiped from the Haggadah, too.

Notice the scandal tonight, how the hero of our freedom saga is turned into an extra. Is it so easy to forget him because he is Mizrahi and born in Egypt? And if we leave an extra cup and chair empty, we intend it for someone else. What in the world does the Exodus have to do with Elijah?

Moses did not have to die. His health was pretty good for a man his age: “His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.”

But even God is sensitive about his status, and he has no interest in sharing the credit. He alone brought us out of Egypt, split the sea and provided for our needs in the desert. And God has no partners.

I will redeem thee, because there is no one but me to redeem.

I began to collect bricks, straw, stone and sherds that the builders had rejected. I saw in my mind’s eye all the people with impediments gathering, those with speech impediments leading them. Moses was “slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” From now on, stutterers would have hope.

And if a scholar arises and protests the blasphemy, I will respond in kind: Where were you when Mordecai and Esther found their eternal rest far from Shushan, which is Hamadan in Iran? Moses deserves eternal rest, too.

To this day, I don’t know for sure why the project never got off the ground. Maybe because my family thought I was crazy – not for the first time – and refused to cooperate.

Maybe because the number of stutterers had been declining and the numbers of the smooth-tongued are increasing, and we wouldn’t see a living out of that monument.

And maybe because I did not want to go the way of hustlers and panderers, who turn every innocent faith into superstition and every distress into idol worship.

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