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 the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and the Madden-Jewett 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, The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature, Wing to Wing, Oar to Oar: Readings on Courting and Marrying (with Amy A. Kass), Life, Liberty, and the Defense of Dignity: The Challenge for Bioethics, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, What So Proudly We Hail: The American Soul in Story, Speech, and Song (with Amy A. Kass and Diana Schaub), Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times, and most recently, Founding God's Nation: Reading Exodus.

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 editor of Mosaic, host of the "Tikvah Podcast," and from 2018–2020, served as the executive director of the Jewish Leadership Conference. He was educated at Tufts University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Georgetown University.