The Moses Controversy

Most people sleep comfortably at night just knowing that the great majority of things they believe are right and true. And yet, the common faith in one’s own capacity for truly independent thought is, I believe, highly overrated.

How many of us have developed a belief system that is truly uninherited? One simple test is to gauge your beliefs against those who are closest to you. Are they essentially identical? Or have you come to believe things that seem strangely unlike those of your milieu? There have been countless crazes – from food to fashion to philosophy- whereby great numbers of people get swept up in sensible sounding ideas and socially acceptable style, many of which come to seem ridiculous in hindsight. There is no penalty for being one of the crowd but it takes a rare courage to stand apart it.

Perhaps this is why filmmaker Tim Mahoney’s production company is called Thinking Man Films. He is a true and rare example of someone who has mastered thinking on his own, whose commitment to finding truth leads him to follow evidence wherever it might lead. He has produced two excellent films, Patterns of Evidence which took on the conventional wisdom in academia about the nature of the Biblical Exodus, and now The Moses Controversy which attempts to support the traditional notion that Moses was the actual author of the first five books of the Bible. This is no small task given that the vast majority of the academic world regards it as quaint nonsense and wishful thinking.

Despite the opposition, Tim has been willing to travel anywhere, pore through source documents and intently listen to the critiques of his detractors. He politely, respectfully though insistently challenges those who have long ago accepted ideas they believe have been conclusively settled. He has chutzpah in the best sense of the word. What does a filmmaker know about anything? He has no degree in archaeology or ancient languages or Egyptology. He’s an outsider. But his mind is unencumbered by convention, perhaps allowing him to see “out of the box” in ways that those steeped in the accepted wisdom cannot.

In this regard, he strikes me as a Moses-like figure himself, challenging the powers that be to their faces and asking for freedom on behalf of the little people who still believe that the Torah is an historically accurate document with world-historical import. “Who is God that I should listen to Him?” asks the incredulous Pharaoh; we all know there is no such thing. Pharaoh’s learning process was painful and difficult, but in the end he came to the truth, one quite unlike what he and all those around him could have imagined.

The Moses Controversy is a fascinating and compelling story that brims with intellectual fire-power for those who are open-minded enough to give the Bible’s authorship a second look.

For the trailer and upcoming screenings, see here.

About the Author
Rabbi Adam Jacobs is the Managing Director of the Aish Center in Manhattan. He was born and raised in New York and has lived in Boston and Jerusalem, where he received his rabbinic ordination. He completed his B.A. in music from Brandeis University and has a Masters of Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory. He is a blogger for the Huffington Post’s religion section and has a penchant for writing and teaching about the uplifting, beautiful and unexpected aspects of the Jewish tradition. He was recently featured in the documentary film "Kabbalah Me" and has published a collection of essays called The Forgotten Light. Rabbi Jacobs now lives in “the burbs” with his wife Penina and their five children.
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