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Va’aera ~ 5773 ~ וארא
G-d tells Moshe to inform the Jewish People that He is going to take them out of Egypt. However, the Jewish people do not listen. G-d commands Moshe to go to Pharaoh and ask him to free the Jewish people. Although Aaron shows Pharaoh a sign by turning a staff into a snake, Pharaoh’s magicians copy the sign, emboldening Pharaoh to refuse the request.
G-d punishes the Egyptians and sends plagues of blood and frogs, but the magicians copy these miracles on a smaller scale, again encouraging Pharaoh to be obstinate. After the plague of lice, Pharaoh’s magicians concede that only G-d could be performing these miracles. Only the Egyptians, and not the Jews in Goshen, suffer during the plagues.
The onslaught continues with wild animals, pestilence, boils and fiery hail. However, despite Moshe’s offers to end the plagues if Pharaoh lets the Jewish People leave, Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and refuses to do so.
MAFTIR Numbers 28:9 – 15 ~ page 695
HAFTORAH Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Isaiah 66:1 – 24 ~ page 944 – 947
This Haftarah tells how G-d doesn’t desire the sacrifices of the wicked. Since the Temple is G-d’s resting place on earth, how dare one try to offer sacrifices that are not spiritually pure?! The prophet Isaiah predicts that Jerusalem will flourish with the in gathering of the Jewish exiles. He reminds us that Hashem wouldn’t bring us this far to let us down. In the future, G-d will punish the wicked and destroy them. The nations of the world will help bring back the remaining Jews to Jerusalem from distant lands. Isaiah concludes: all the righteous people will find comfort in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem.
Parashah Study Questions
1. According to verse 6:13, who was commanded to let the slaves go free?
2. Both Levi and Amram lived to 137 (verse 6:16 and 20). According to physics and kabbalah, what is important about that number?
3. Are there any differences between Moshe’s argument in verses 6:30 and 6:12 ? What does “arahl” mean?
4. The word for magic “Lahaht” used here is only found in one other place: Genesis 3:24 – regarding the angels that protected the Garden of Eden. What is the similarity?
5. Rabbi Hertz uses the classic definition of “Arov” as “flies.” What are other famous options?