1. The midwives defied Pharaoh's orders and kept the Jewish infants alive. Moshe, upon seeing an Egyptian striking a Jew, kills the Egyptian. Where does one draw the line between civil disobedience and criminal activity? Based on what criteria is that distinction made? Are there limits as to what types of activities are considered justifiable in an act of defiance? Is defiance forbidden, permitted, or obligatory?


    Samuel I, 22: 16-17 - And the king said: 'You shall surely die, Ahimelech, you and all your father's house.' And the king said to the guard that stood about him: 'Turn, and slay the priests of the Lord, because their hand also is with David, and because they knew that he fled and did not tell me.' But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the Lord."

  2. After Moshe's first encounter with Pharaoh, the condition of the Jews gets worse. They complain to Moshe, who in turn complains to God. God responds that now Moshe will see that Pharaoh will indeed free the people. Moshe, as middleman between God and the people, is put into an uncomfortable position, and needs to rely on the authority of someone else, in this case God, to take responsibility for the outcome of his actions. When is it appropriate to rely on reassurances from the authorities that our actions are OK, and when must we take personal responsibility for them? For example, at what point can, or must, a soldier refuse to obey the authority of a commanding officer because the soldier deems is immoral? What would happen to armies, or any organized system, is every individual decided for themselves what was appropriate or inappropriate?

link to lookstein.org