Moses and Sid

7 Mar


Somewhere in the relentlessly empty wilderness of the Sinai desert, the oppressive sun bears down without pity upon the great Israelite multitude wandering slowly and hopefully toward the Promised Land.

A cell phone sounds. Its muffled ringtone is the familiar chorus of an Egyptian folk song, a long-ago chart-topper popular among a slightly older demographic.

It sounds a second time. The elderly man at the front seems momentarily perturbed, maybe by the muffled ringing, maybe by the oppressive heat.

He pulls open the small satchel at his waist, takes out the phone and answers midway through the third ring.



“Yes, yes. Who is this?”

“It’s Sid. Moses, how you doing? Where are you anyhow?”

“Sid? Sid who? Do I know you?”

“Of course you know me, Moses. It’s Sid. Remember? I used to play ball against your brother Aaron. Midian vs. Raamses? Remember the big playoff game?”


“Listen, Moses. Never mind that. It was a long time ago. So… how you been?”

“Sid, I’m kind of busy right now. I’m leading my people eastward to Canaan. It could take awhile. I need to focus on this.”

“Moses, I know what you’re doing, pal. I’m wandering along with you. Way in the back. I’m just trying to figure out where you are.”

“You’re in back? How far back?”

“I don’t know. Two… three days back, maybe. Israelites in front of me as far as I can see.”

“Two or three days back? That salesman wasn’t kidding when he said this phone had good coverage.”

“So, anyhow, Moses, a few of us here were wondering… you know… how long this was going to take.”


“You know… the wandering and all.”

“The wandering? Look, I’m not sure at this point. Just… have a little faith, okay?”

“Well… okay. But listen… Moses… the Red Sea parting thing?”

“What about it?”

“Well, it was impressive and all… and I don’t want to sound ungrateful… but, well, it was a little close for those of us in the back. I was maybe five minutes from drowning along with all of those chariots.”


“Yes, Moses?”

“Walk faster.”





“Hi, it’s Sid. Where are you?”

“Sid, I’m kind of busy right now. Can we talk later?”

“Well, it’s just that you’ve been gone awhile. Up on that mountain. What’s it been – more than a month?”

“Yes, well… it’s a pretty big job.”

“Yeah. What are you doing exactly?”

“You’ll find out soon. Sid, I really can’t talk. I’ve got a heavy load and I’ve got to figure out the best way to get it down the mountain.”

“Really? A present?”

“Kind of. Can we talk when I get back?”

“Sure, Moses. But just quickly… listen… I don’t want to tell tales out of school, but your brother Aaron…”

“What about Aaron?”

“Well… look… okay, I may as well just tell you since you’ll find out anyhow.”

“Sid, what is it?”

“Okay. So… Aaron? He kind of built this calf…”

“Built a calf?”

“Yeah. A golden calf. Look, you were gone so long. We were getting a little restless. Anyhow, everyone’s been sort of … well… worshipping it…”

“Worshipping a golden calf? Oh, for the love of… I can’t trust you people alone for a even a few days, can I? A golden calf!”

“Look, Moses. I understand you’re upset and all, but I’m just the messenger.”

“Fine, fine. Look, just sit tight. I’ll be there as soon as I can. I need to figure out how I’m going to explain this one.”

“Explain? To who, Moses?”

“Sid… you know…”

“Oh… right.”



“Moses, where are you?”

“I’m on Mount Nebo. Quite the view, I must say.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying the view, but we’re kind of anxious to cross the Jordan. It’s been 40 years and all…”

“Yeah… well…”

“Moses, you don’t sound too good. Everything okay?”

“Listen, Sid… I’m not coming with you.”

“Not coming? What are you talking about?”

“Sid, I’ve appreciated our chats over the years… some of them anyway… but the decision is out of my hands. I’d rather just leave it there, if you don’t mind.”

“Okay, Moses. Whatever you say. It’s all so sudden. Are there any… I don’t know… instructions you have for us?”

“Well, I’ve gone over it before. Observe Aviv, keep the Passover, unleavened bread for seven days…”

“Unleavened bread? Listen, can we skip that one?”

“Sid, I gotta go. My battery’s almost drained…”


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