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February 26: The Birth and Death of Moses

February 26, 2015

Discovery of Baby Moses by Paul DelarocheAccording to classical Biblical reckoning, as calculated by the Lubavitcher Hasidim, Moses the son of Yocheved was born into slavery on this date in 1393 BCE and died on this date 120 years later. Moses is the dominant human figure of the Torah: liberator of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt, leader and miracle-worker during their forty-year sojourn in the wilderness, law-giver, jurist, teacher, prophet, and intermediary between the people and God. The Midrash tells the story of Moses’ death as follows: He entreats God over and over (515 times) to withdraw the decree and allow him to enter the Promised Land -- but he is denied his plea. He asks to be turned into an animal or a bird or an insect so that he might enter the Promised Land -- to no avail. He tries to recruit heaven and earth to his cause, but is rebuffed. God finally sends the Angel of Death to do the job, but the angel is overwhelmed by the holiness of the man and cannot perform. At last, three angels arrange Moses on his couch, and God says to him: Cross your feet. Fold your hands and lay them on your breast. Close your eyes. Then God speaks to Moses’ soul: “My daughter, you have dwelt in this righteous man’s body for 120 years, and your time has come...” God kisses Moses, and his soul rushes forth in ecstasy.

“Jesus Saves. Moses Invests.” —Anonymous