My sons are 5.5 and 8. As I have discussed on Kveller before, I don’t watch TV and my sons had not seen TV until their dad showed them some Sesame Street-type stuff a few years ago on his iPad. I had–and still have–no interest in watching TV with my kids. I don’t have time to deal with the fights children have with parents about wanting to watch more, or a particular show, or buying the toys that the advertising industry jams down our kids’ throats–basically, I want nothing to do with it.
Now that I am divorced, I have to accept in new ways that my son’s father may do things in his house which I don’t do in my house and that’s got to be okay. He shows them TV. They don’t watch a lot, and we discuss what they watch, but I simply don’t show them any TV. I don’t have cable, so my TV is for watching movies and that’s all.
My boys have seen a few movies on their dad’s TV, and they have been very simple classic movies. I’ve watched a few at their dad’s house with them. We recently all went on a divorced family field trip to take our boys to their first in-theater experience, “The LEGO Movie,” which was awesome. (Here’s my post about it!)
This Passover, though, I showed my boys a movie in my house. We watched “Prince of Egypt,” the Dreamworks animated film (complete with some lovely musical numbers, including “When You Believe” (which The Maccabeats cover stunningly on their second album, “Out of The Box,” by the way).
We three sat on the couch, with me in the middle so I could be simultaneously cuddled, and we loved it. I think I may have enjoyed it the most, even though I first saw it in the theaters when it came out and knew best how it was going to turn out. I really love the music in this movie, and God help me if I don’t cry every time they sing about Moses delivering the Jews.
I can’t help it. When Moses’ big sister Miriam watches him float down the river to his destiny and sings, “Grow, baby brother, come back some day, come and deliver us too,” I seriously lose it. My sons are used to me crying when I sing Taylor Swift songs and when I see homeless people on the side of the road, so they are never shocked when mama gets emotional, but I think I cried a good six separate times during the viewing of the movie. Hardcore.
Watching during Passover was a great way for us to review the plagues and the story of slavery and Moses’ fleeing after murdering the Egyptian he sees beating the Jewish slave (the movie leaves it kind of vague as to whether the Egyptian dies or just gets super hurt). We discussed Moses’ family, and how he found Tzipporah in the desert and how she wasn’t Jewish and her father Yitro was a magician and shepherd and taught Moses all of the things he needed to know to eventually help him accept his destiny and ask Pharoah to release the Jews.
During the movie, at one point, through tears, I said something to my boys like, “What do you think it was like for Moses to be asked to deliver the Jews? It must have seemed so impossible in his mind; ridiculous almost. The next time something seems hard–” and here I admit, I started to laugh at myself as I continued “–think of how hard it was for Moses!”
My boys laughed a little at their silly, weepy, maudlin mama, but it’s true! What a tremendous story that our tradition passes on: a baby destined to be killed just for being Jewish is saved and raised in a foreign culture and a foreign home. His birthright can not be avoided, just as destiny itself can not be avoided. He flees the comforts of his life and goes on a soul-searching journey. He grows his beard and has mystical experiences with a magician in the desert. He falls in love. And then he finds the courage–with his brother by his side, since he is weak of tongue, our Torah says–to take on the mightiest power of his time on behalf of a broken and battered people.
He leads us out of slavery with miracles and wonders and faith. And he leads us out of slavery into the desert to wander, broken and battered again, but with him as our leader and new challenges to overcome. The end of the story, which we are counting towards (Shavuot falls 40 days after Passover starts) is the acceptance of the yoke of faith, with all of its trappings and complexity.
What a story. What a life. Thank you, “Prince of Egypt,” for peeling back yet another layer of the onion that is parenthood. I am grateful to be teaching Torah to my sons the way only parents in this age of technology can. Grateful.