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SERMON: The Movie “Exodus” and the Miracle of Schmaltz

December 22, 2014

This year is unique because during the festival of Chanukah, I have to speak to you about the exodus from Egypt, because of last week’s opening of the movie “Exodus, Gods and Kings.”

I am not much of a movie goer. The last time I went to the movies was back in August; Sherry and I walked out in the middle. Now it is listed as one of the best movies of the year! It’s hard to get us to sit through a movie … Sherry won’t go unless she knows the movie’s ending and I won’t go if it has aliens or vampires! But the movie “The Exodus” seems right for both of us! Sherry could go knowing the ending beforehand, and I figured that as a rabbi I could get a sermon out of it! So someday I might see it, but for now here is the sermon.

The movie did not get good reviews and its opening week was well below projections. That’s for you and movie critics to decide. I speak of the movie because of articles that I had seen that spoke specifically to the religious nature of the movie. It started with a large article in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 5 entitled: “How did Moses part the Red Sea? The science of tides may have saved the Israelites from the Egyptians.” The article took note of the fact that this movie looked much different than Cecil B. DeMille’s classic “The Ten Commandments.” In that that movie, Charlton Heston – with God on his side – parted the Sea into two huge walls of water. This new version seems to take God out of the equation … it seems to take the miracles out of the picture. In this movie, the waters part as a result of a tsunami caused by an earthquake. So Glenn Beck proclaims: “And the miracles … they are all explainable, natural occurrences. I think this is a very subversive movie for religion.” Entertainment Weekly describes it: “Director Ridley Scott looked to science, not miracles, to part the Red Sea.” Another commentator describes it as having taken place “in accordance with the way of the world; that the wind dries out and parches the rivers.” Indeed, the plagues themselves seem to be little more than natural occurrences and ecological disasters. What happened to the supernatural? What happened to the miracles?  READ MORE

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