Eternal One
Was not Moses your intimate friend
With whom you spoke ‘Face to face’
Who You sent To Pharaoh
To diminish his name
That Yours might prevail over all the earth?

Was he not Your trusted Shepherd
Who stood before despots on Your behalf
And in humility before You?

Why did You betray him?
Moses suffered because he measured himself
Against Your image.

He was Your voice
Your extended hand
Your fingers touching
Water, air, fire, and earth.

You worked against him
Using him,
Stiffening Pharaoh’s heart,
Showing You as the only One,
Reversing creation,
Devastating worlds,
Polluting waters,
Destroying crops,
Killing beasts,
Darkening the future.

You made him redeemer to lead the people
And drag them through salt water walls,
In mud and muck birthing them
As You drowned all of Egypt.

The people needed Your fist
But they didn’t change.
They complained at Meribah
Where You ordered Moses to hit the rock
And he did as you commanded.

Your strong hand and arm
Held close to Your breast
You fed them manna
And sated them from Miriam’s wells.

You brought them into the wild
Led them to Sinai
Gave them words
To be a holy nation
Your treasured possession
A nation of souls.

Years rolled by
Miriam died
The waters dried
The people complained

Moses was old
Tired and worn
Long past his prime.
You told him to speak to the rock
Out of covenantal faith
Permitting the waters to flow freely.

You knew his mind and his weariness.
You knew he would beat the rock
With his stick and water would flow
Surprised – You were enraged
And You denied Moses his dream
To enter the land.

Poor Moses
He did all you commanded.
He was your friend
But You consigned him away to a lonely death
On a lowly mountain.

We, his descendants
Await the day
When the Word will be stronger
Than the fist.

It will be a very long time
Far longer than 40 years.

Poem by Rabbi John L. Rosove