• Vaera

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    Vaera ~ 5772 ~ 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 Aharon 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 will let the Jewish People leave, Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and refuses to do so.

    MAFTIR Exodus 9:33 – 35 ~ pages 244
    HAFTORAH Ezekiel 28:25 – 29:21 ~ pages 244 – 247
    Speaking to the Babylonian exiles (with whom he had been deported in 597 B.C.E.) Ezekiel foresees their restoration to the Holy Land where they will live in safety. In 587 B.C.E. he warns Zedekiah, king of Judah, not to rely on an alliance with Egypt against Babylon. Applying the metaphor of the crocodile – the symbol of Egypt – the prophet declares that it will be dragged out of the river and become an easy prey to “the beasts of the earth and to the fowls of the heaven”. Egypt will be laid waste by the enemy and its inhabitants scattered among the nations. At the end of forty years Egypt would be restored, but only as an inferior nation. (The prophecy against Egypt provides the link with the Sidra.) In a later prediction (570 B.C.E.) Ezekiel names Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon as the invader of Egypt and adds that after this confirmation of his prophecy the people of Israel will believe in his teachings and recognize the power of the Lord.

    Parsha Study Questions

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    1. How does verse 6:3 mitigate biblical criticism of biblical authorship?
    2. If according to Midrash “Putiel” is Yitro, how is Pinchas related to Moshe (v. 6:25)?
    3. Why do you think the Torah mentions the age of both Moshe and Aron (7:7)? Isn’t that a non-sequitur?
    4. Last week (4:3) Moshe threw down his staff and it became a snake, here they throw down Aaron’s staff and it become a ‘tanin” (v. 7:9-12 )?
    5. What are the four possible translations for the plague of Arov ~ערב?