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What is the true legacy and greatness of Moses?

January 27, 2014

MosesWalter Kaufmann, a Jewish philosopher, summarized what makes Moses so different from exalted figures of other religions:

[Moses] went away to die alone, lest any man should know his grave to worship him there or attach any value to his mortal soul. Having seen Egypt, he knew…how prone men are to such superstitions. Going off to die alone, he might have left his people with the image of a mystery…with the thought that he did not die but went up to heaven – with the notion that he was immortal and divine… Instead, he created an enduring image of humanity; he left his people with the thought that, being human and imperfect, he was no allowed to enter the promised land, but that he went up on the mountain to see it before he died. The Jews have been so faithful to his spirit that they have…never worshiped him… What the Jews have presented to the world has not been Moses or any individual, but their ideas about God and man. It is a measure of Moses’ greatness that one cannot but imagine that he would have approved wholeheartedly. It would have broken his heart if he had thought that his followers build temples to him, make images of him, or elevate him into heaven. That he has never been deified [like Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, or the Pharaoh of ancient Egypt] is one of the most significant facts about the ideas of God and man in the Old Testament.” (Walter Kaufmann, Religions in Four Dimensions, p. 44.)

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