The Moses Quotient

Friday, 20 March, 2015 - 1:22 am

There is a discussion among the commentators to Passover Haggadah regarding the paucity of the mention of Moses from the narrative. Some argue that this is proof that Moses was the author of the bulk of the text and the remainder was added in Talmudic times. Others maintain that the absence of Moses from the Haggadah is because the focus needs to be on Hashem.

The Rambam has an interesting take on this issue. While he does not directly address this point, he alludes to it when discussing a father’s obligation to relate the story of the exodus to his child.

In the laws of Chametz and Matzah, 7:2 he writes, “It is a mitzvah to inform one's sons even though they do not ask, as [Exodus 13:8] states: "You shall tell your son."

A father should teach his son according to the son's knowledge: How is this applied? If the son is young or foolish, he should tell him: "My son, in Egypt, we were all slaves like this maidservant or this slave. On this night, the Holy One, Blessed be He, redeemed us and took us out to freedom."

If the son is older and wise, he should inform him what happened to us in Egypt and the miracles wrought for us by Moses, our teacher; everything according to the son's knowledge.”

What the Rambam is teaching us is that when one is more sophisticated, one is capable of appreciating the role of Moses as the agent who was appointed by Hashem to perform the miracles of Passover.

This is gives us some insight into the value of Emunas Tzadikim – the belief in the power of our righteous leaders. When stories are related of the Baal Shemtov or the Rebbe or many great Tzadikim and Jewish leaders throughout the generations, it requires a degree of spiritual maturity and sophistication to appreciate those stories and the role of a Rebbe.

Interestingly the one mention of Moses in the Haggadah is a quote from Exodus 14:31, “and they believed in the L-rd and in Moses, His servant.” This is one of the sources for the concept of Emunas Tzadikim.

The Haggadah states, “Therefore, even if we were all wise, all men of understanding, all well-versed in Torah, we would still be commanded to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt. Whoever tells the story at length is worthy of being praised.” The third Chabad Rebbe commented, even when we are all knowledgeable and learned there is great value in the telling of stories of Tzadikim and the more the better.

As we are just two weeks out from Passover, I want to remind you that is your resource for all of your holiday needs and information. It is also important to remember to take care of selling your chametz in a timely manner. You can do so online at

We say farewell to Limor (and Kobi) Rosenberg as well as Alexander (and Esther) Vogman, who are returning to Israel this week after successfully undergoing liver transplants at Ochsner hospital. We wish them all well. We value their friendship and look forward to staying in touch.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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