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Person of the Year: 2448

Thursday, 14 January, 2021 - 11:00 pm

It was the year 2448 (on the Hebrew calendar). The Time Magazine editorial board was gathered to discuss who to name as Person of the Year. The Exodus was in full throttle progression. The editor-in-chief brought up the obvious candidate, Moses. He has been a catalyst for major change in the world. He is bringing freedom to the Hebrews. He is humbling the tyrant, Pharaoh.

One snarky member of the committee interjected, “Why not consider Pharaoh? I bet you he has been on as many front covers this year than anyone else.” This sparked an outraged response. “What? Feature the villain instead of the hero? Pharaoh has been enslaving the Hebrews for generations.”

Mr. Snarky replied with smug self-righteousness, “And Moses is not a villain? Look at what he has brought upon the Egyptian citizens? Plagues and all. What have they done to deserve this? Maybe we should name the Egyptian Citizen as Person of the Year for all they have endured?”

A more level-headed member of the committee coughed politely, “Ahem, the Egyptian people have been willing enablers of Pharaoh’s designs on the Jews. Not mention the benefits they received from the slave labor. Perhaps we should think about the Hebrews as the Person of the Year? Maybe this will get a reparations discussion going in Egyptian society.”

In the meantime, someone else wanted to know why there were only male candidates up for discussion. “Maybe we should consider Princess Batya or Miriam the Prophetess?” The led to a long conversation about male privilege in society.

The religion editor suggested that the G-d of the Hebrews be featured. “First of all,” came the rejoinder, “this is supposed to Person of the Year. Besides how can we feature someone who has no image that can grace the front cover? Finally, we don’t even know if this G-d exists. Perhaps it is all a part of Moses’s conspiracy to overthrow Pharaoh for trying to kill him years ago, while blaming it on an imaginary G-d.”

The night wore on and the discussions became more heated and less practical. The production team downstairs was waiting for a decision so they could go to print. As the sun came up, the unpretentious head of the production team decided to take matters into his own hands. Time Magazine 2448 featured Moses as its Person of the Year. That decision proved correct when in the subsequent days, Moses led millions of Hebrews out of Egypt with their heads held high, followed by the dazzling crossing of the sea a week later.

In fact the Hebrews (or people of Israel) established a holiday to remember these events, where they talk about Moses, Pharaoh, Batya, Miriam, the Egyptian citizens, the Hebrew slaves, and of course, G-d Al-mighty. Indeed Passover is our festival of freedom.

Legend has it that in a room on the second story of an old building in the ancient capital of Egypt, there is a table that has a group of talking skulls around it still debating who should be the Person of Year for 2448.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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