They brought him home from the hospital, and following the mimeographed instructions, laid him on his stomach nose-to-nose with a stuffed animal. He promptly turned over on his back to gaze at the piece of blue heaven framed in the upper pane of the window.

There was a knock on the door. On the doorstep stood the king's courier, a scrolled decree in his fist. "Throw him in the river!" it commanded.

So they bundled him off to a $20,000-a-year pre-pre-school academy that taught art appreciation, classical music and Economics 103 in a 10th floor suite at Lexington and 63rd.

He escaped by tying 14 bedsheets together. They finally located him poring over ancient texts in a yeshivah library. When they brought him home, they found the order tacked to their front door: "Drown him in the river!"

So they sent him to an Ivy League college famous for its business school where he majored in corporate climbing and minored in political correctness and suburban homing.

Today he taps a keypad in an underwater corner office. Once or twice a year, however, he casts a brief, yearning gaze at the piece of blue heaven framed in the upper pane of his window.

And Pharaoh command to all his people: "Every son that is born shall be cast into the River" (Exodus 1:22).

To understand the deeper significance of Pharaoh's decree, we need to take a closer look at the river in question.

The Nile was the mainstay of the Egyptian economy. No rain falls in Egypt, so the Egyptian farmer did not look to the heavens for sustenance. Instead, he awaited the annual surge of the river's waters, which flooded the Nile Valley. A network of canals and irrigation ditches collected the water and watered the fields.

The ancient Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a god. After all, it was their Dollar, Stock Portfolio, College Education and Career wrapped in one. It stands to reason that they would build for it temples as glorious as those we erect in our own college campuses and financial districts.

Is there no escaping the tyranny of the River? The Book of Exodus goes on to tell the story of a people who defied the "Drown him in the River!" credo. We read of a people who hid their babies in the fields to live off the mercies of Heaven rather than give them up to the waters of the Nile. We read of a mother who placed her child in the River, but in a basket of reeds, so that its waters would carry him and uplift him rather than engulf him. We read of a people who emerged from four generations of Egyptian subjugation with their heads held high, their gaze lifted heavenward, their souls buoyed by the blessing of the material but never, never overwhelmed by them.

Three thousand years later, the river flows on and the pharaohs of society and convention bark their orders still. Will you drown your child in the river, or will you build him a boat?