Equal Before God

Moshe and Pharaoh clash over who among the Israelites will worship God in the desert, illustrating the fundamental differences between paganism and monotheism.

Print this page Print this page

This is the way Judaism works, and this is why the Jews must leave oppressive, totalitarian, autocratic Egypt, the Egypt that enslaves, the Egypt that rules, for the freedom of the desert. There, and only there, unencumbered by the chains of slavery, oppression, and royalty, each and every individual, on his or her own, stands before the Creator of the Universe. Celebrates before the Creator of the Universe. In fact, we can perhaps say that the specific content of this celebration in the desert is the fact that all of us, young and old, male and female, can stand, and are standing, as independent entities before God. That itself is worthy of celebration.

Killing the First Born

As the plagues continue, and reach the awful climax of the killing of the first born, God's side of this equation is clarified. The reason each and every one of us must stand before God is this: He created us all. He rules us all. In the pagan world, with a plethora, a hierarchy, of Gods, not everyone has the same relationship with one deity or another; not every deity has the same relationship with the world and its creatures. If, on the other hand, there is one, all-powerful Creator, as the plagues prove, we are all equally his creations. We all stand before him equally as his, and only his subjects.

Some of you may be wondering exactly how far I want to really go with this egalitarian thing. In other words, really put my money where my mouth is. Good question.

I do think that what I said above is right, and true. I also think that the Jewish people know that men and women, children and adults, also have to interact, live together, raise families, in community, and that there are ways in which we, as a people, have tried to arrange these interactions, ways worthy of our respect, on the one hand, and our respectful criticism on the other.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Shimon Felix

Rabbi Shimon Felix is the Israel Director of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel. He lives with his family in Jerusalem, and has taught in a wide variety of educational frameworks in Israel and abroad.