Moses as Labor Organizer: A Passage for Pesach

Adapted from A. J. Muste


Moses as Labor Organizer: A Passage for Pesach

Dear Chevra,

This next text seems especially appropriate for use in a year when issues of sweatshops, corporate globalization, etc., are raising labor questions. The passage comes from the Freedom Seder, first published 31 years ago, and was drawn from the writings of A. J. Muste, an extraordinary American radical (Wobbly, briefly an independent Communist, then a Christian radical and pacifist) who died in 1967. I'm sorry not to be able to cite it more fully from Muste's work.

Shalom, Arthur

From The Freedom Seder

(Ramparts Magazine & Micah Press, 1969; Holt Rinehart Winston, 1970)

By Arthur Waskow

Let us begin our own discourse tonight with the story of Moses and the rebellion of our forebears against slavery, as it was retold in our own days by the prophet Abraham Johannes Muste:

"Moses lived in a period of dictatorship. His people were slaves. The bosses made them work under a speed-up sys-tem, and committed horrible atrocities, such as trying to kill all the boy-babies born to the Jews.

"Moses himself was saved from such a death only be-cause his mother hid him in a reed basket in the Nile River. There he was found by the daughter of the Pharaoh, which is what they called their dictator in Egypt. The prin-cess took Moses to the royal palace and had him brought up as her own son.

"When Moses was a young man he became curious about the Hebrew slaves, and one day went to the brickyards where some of them were working. The first thing he saw was an Egyptian boss hitting a Hebrew laborer. Moses was a powerful young man. He lost his temper. He hit the boss

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