Discussing Divine Punishment With a Child
Earlier today I engaged in a hit-and-run post in which I asked who was Moshe Rabbeinu’s father. The impetus for this was in part a fragmented memory and in part the impact of having watched a movie with my son.
The two of us watched Prince of Egypt. The film has some issues but I wasn’t going to engage a five-year-old in a discussion of how the filmmakers might have taken some liberties with the movie.
Anyway, we watched a watered down version of the Exodus and it generated some tough questions. As the title of the post suggests one of the questions was in relation to divine punishment. It wasn’t the easiest topic to discuss as it really is quite involved.
There is the question of why people enslave others. That is a pretty serious talk in itself as it incorporates many elements such as prejudice. It actually ties in well with the M.L.K. discussion he and I had last month, but at the same time I try not to throw too many things at him at once.
So there we were with the question of what happened to the Egyptians who were in the Red Sea. He wanted to know what happened to them and why. And for a moment I was unsure of how to respond because I didn’t want to make G-d look bad.
That sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it. The atheists who read this probably got a kick out of that one. But it is true, I do believe and G-d and my personal belief is not a G-d of fire and brimstone.
Part of the question is why kill all of those Egyptians. Why not come up with some other miracle. You can part the Red Sea, surely you can make them go blind for a few minutes or make them take the wrong turn and end up in cleveland. Why kill.
I am not the first person to ask those questions and I have been part of discussions that dealt with that very topic, but they are a little too sophisticated for a five-year-old.
So we meandered around a bit and talked about how some people don’t like others and why it is important to judge people based upon what they do and how they behave. But I can’t say that we came to a conclusion that was satisfactory to me.
But I was rescued from this awkward place as we had to run to a birthday party. I still have to come up with some answers, but I have more time to do it.