Eisenbud's Odyssey: Finding Moses

Jew or non-Jew, make your own exodus to freedom – but don’t wait for Moses to save you.

Moses holding the ten commandments 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Moses holding the ten commandments 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As a kid, sitting with my family around our dining room table for the Passover Seder, when I wasn’t dreading “singing” the Four Questions in a way that would make Simon Cowell finally pack it in, or being clearly identified as the “simple son” by my older sister, the concept of being rescued by Moses sounded very appealing.
After all, what could be better than a guy showing up when you are at your wit’s end to righteously demand, and actually attain, your freedom? To me, tagging along with a cool-looking elderly guy with a magic staff and supernatural powers to salvation seemed like an excellent proposition.
Moses sounded awesome! Indeed, who among us wouldn’t love to have all of our troubles swept away and the injustices inflicted upon us rectified by an omniscient holy man, who did all the heavy lifting?
In short: Who doesn’t want to be saved?
HOWEVER, I have learned in no uncertain terms that waiting for Moses – or anyone else – to step in and save the day is a sucker’s bet. This is because the only meaningful freedom in this world is achieved independently.
I have met countless people in my life who are waiting to be saved from Pharaohs of their own making – be it an addiction, unfulfilling career, bad marriage or relationship, bad decisions, bad mortgage, bad self-esteem or generally self-damaging lifestyle.
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Their stories are as varied as snowflakes, and frequently heartbreaking.
But they share one fatal common denominator that prevents them from finding the freedom they so desperately seek: The inability – or even refusal – to save themselves.
Millions of us perpetually, and passively, wait for that one phone call, email or chance encounter that will change our lives forever. That one miracle that will finally set us free from whatever it is that ails us, giving us the lives we truly deserve.
Of course, that miracle almost never comes. Nor should it.
MANY OF us spend an alarmingly wasteful portion of our lives enslaved by our inner Pharaoh – a Pharaoh we have personally engineered, frequently with astounding efficiency, who prevents us from finding the very freedom we think eludes us.
The good news is that we also have the power to banish that Pharaoh into oblivion and replace him with our own inner Moses, who will help propel us to a far better place.
However, finding Moses does not come without hard work and determination.
Indeed, channeling him requires an uncommon level of humility, self-awareness and perseverance – but not a miracle.
It takes a willingness to candidly evaluate the realities obstructing our lives, determining how to best address them, and then the fortitude, sacrifices and courage to move forward to make the necessary changes.
Not an easy proposition, I know.
ISRAEL MAY very well be the world’s premier model for this empowering and independent way of thinking.
Among the most important lessons that living here teaches you is self-reliance, teamwork, courage under fire and not to wait for – or expect – help of any kind.
It is ironic that in the holiest land of all – indeed, God’s country – it is known that one should not expect a miracle, but rather rely on oneself. Yet it is precisely this lesson that has propelled this land, and its absurdly outnumbered inhabitants, to genuinely miraculous heights.
Israel teaches one unequivocal and invaluable truth, and that is this: The only force capable of saving this nation against incomparably poor odds must be found from within.
Waiting for Moses is not an option around here.
The men, women and children of this country are raised to understand that salvation from a Pharaoh of any kind is achieved through an unflinching and pitiless assessment of reality, accompanied by proactive and humane thinking and actions that will improve their lives.
If Israelis waited to be saved by miracles from an otherwise decidedly perilous fate, they would have been dead long ago – several times over. It is their willingness to challenge the odds independently, as one, and without self-pity, that truly makes them exceptional, and the lone democracy in a region shrouded by Pharaohs.
THIS PASSOVER I will continue to marvel at the divine heroics of Moses and what he did for the Jews, with the wonderment of a child. However, I will also know that waiting for him to make all of this nation’s problems go away is childish.
The most valuable lesson the people of Israel have taught me is that we must rely upon ourselves in the face of harrowing odds. It is this recognition that has truly set them free.
Jew or non-Jew, make your own exodus to freedom – but don’t wait for Moses to save you.
Take it from the Sabras: Be your own Moses.
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