It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No…it’s Moses!

18 Jul

OK, so maybe it’s Superman.

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After traveling for close to the last month of my life, I finally had an opportunity to view the new Superman film, Man of Steel. Growing up as a fan of the comics, movies, and cartoons and as a Jew, I have always found an intriguing comparison between Superman and Moses. So let’s compare!

A closer look reveals some odd similarities between the two. An integral part of Superman/Clark Kent’s back story is his departure from his home planet of Krypton at birth. Moments before his home world of Krypton is destroyed, his birth parents, father Jor-El and mother Lara, place him into a spaceship, sending it into the black abyss of space. Upon landing in this new world, Superman or Kal-El (Superman’s original Kryptonian name which in Hebrew can be translated into “Voice of G-d”) is adopted by natives who immediately see how different he is but deep inside know this child is bound for greatness.

One can begin to see how this mirrors the biblical story of the birth and upbringing of Moses, one of the most important figures in the Jewish world. Moses, the story goes, was born to a Hebrew mother living in Egypt who, due to a decree by the Egyptian pharaoh who called for the execution of all first-born male Hebrew children, sent her son adrift in a basket down the Nile river. The basket was then found by none other than the daughter of the Pharaoh himself, who then adopted this boy as her own, naming him Moses.

It is no small wonder that young Jews look up to a superhero that is so much like one of Judaism’s most influential figures.

Quick review:

  • Moses/Superman forced to undergo an exodus from their people (Hebrews/Kryptonians) due to the threats against their lives
  • Adopted by people who are very different from themselves (Egyptian royalty/rural Kansans)

The similarities don’t end there. Maybe it was the intention of the authors of Superman, both of whom are Jewish, to make this connection. Do you agree with this comparison? Are there other figures that symbolize
Superman in our world?

Len Steinberg is the Assistant Program Director at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

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