From the time of the Puritans fleeing religious oppression in the Old World to the time of the African slaves fleeing oppression in the American South, the American march for freedom has always stepped to the beat of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The movement from servitude, across an uncertain wilderness, to a condition of liberty under the law, was to the American mind not some ancient text but a mission to be undertaken in each generation.
But do Americans still see themselves that way? Does the cultural richness of the book of Exodus still have the power to shape the American imagination as it once did? And what enduring insights can be gleaned from the Hebrew Bible to rekindle and recover moral confidence in America’s promise? Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver speaks with Leon Kass, author of a new commentary on Exodus, Founding God’s Nation, and with Ben Shapiro, editor emeritus of the Daily Wire and host of the Ben Shapiro Show to discuss the significance of the Hebrew Bible and the role it can play in the revitalization of American public life.

Leon Kass

Leon R. Kass, MD, PhD, is dean of the faculty at Shalem College, professor emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, and scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute. He was chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005. His numerous articles and books include: Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs (1985), The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature (1999), Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (1999) with Amy A. Kass, Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics (2004), The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (2003), What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song (2011) with Amy A. Kass and Diana Schaub, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times (2017), Reading Ruth: Birth, Redemption, and the Way of Israel (2021) with Hannah Mandelbaum, and most recently, Founding God's Nation: Reading Exodus (2021). He is the winner of the 2023 Herzl Prize, Tikvah's highest honor.

Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is Editor-in-Chief of, host of The Ben Shapiro Show, and a leading conservative speaker on college campuses. Shapiro is the author of eight books, including the #1 New York Times best-seller, The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great (2019). Shapiro is also a nationally syndicated columnist since age 17, and a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School.

Jonathan Silver

Jonathan Silver is the senior director of Tikvah Ideas, where he is also the Warren R. Stern Senior Fellow of Jewish Civilization. The editor of Mosaic, he is also the host of the Tikvah Podcast on which he has hosted hundreds of writers, rabbis, educators, military officers, artists, and political figures, including members of Israel’s Knesset, the U.S. Senate, and the prime minister of Israel.