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January 16, 2015  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

Don’t go to the movies: Read the Book!

By Rabbi Shalom Adler Young Israel/Chabad of Pinellas County, Palm Harbor

I’ve been asked a lot recently whether I have watched the new Exodus movie. My response has been the same as it has for many years to similar questions about Biblical epics: “No, I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve read the book!”

From everything I have heard and read, the movie is not only inaccurate, but also underwhelming. It’s not the fault of the actors, the director or the screenwriters – it’s simply impossible to do justice to a story written and directed by the Almighty Himself.

Most movies of this genre miss the point. They concentrate on the miracles and the supernatural, debating whether they occurred, or trying to explain how they could have been natural phenomena. The central point of the Exodus is far deeper than that.

We are actually commanded to remember the Exodus from Egypt every single day of our lives. So many of our rituals, from the kiddush on Friday night, to the reciting of the Shema daily, commemorate Yetziat Mitzrayim, the going out of Egypt.

In Chassidic thought we are told that the Hebrew word for Egypt – Mitzrayim – is related to, and rooted in the word Meitzar, which means constraint and limitation. The Exodus is not about water turning into blood, or the waters of the Sea of Reeds being split. It’s about the ability to break free from our own limitations.

The struggle against Pharaoh was one of brute force against morality. It was the triumph of the spirit over the material. This struggle continues within each and every one of us on a daily basis. By reminding ourselves of the Exodus daily, we reinforce within ourselves, the G-d given ability to overcome our challenges.

So, save yourself some money, don’t buy the movie tickets, and don’t get the popcorn. Delve into the Torah, look into the commentaries and relive the “greatest story ever told”!

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned on a rotating basis by the board.

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