Parshat Vaera

“And I appeared”   Exodus 6:2-9:35

The Torah portion begins with the word Vaeira which means “And I appeared”. It is a portion that will reveal much of G-d’s rulership , compassion and control. G-d begins by revealing more of His Private Name to Moshe. He then declares His promise to His people using the “four expressions of redemption:

Therefore, say to the children of Israel , ‘I am HaShem, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.. And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians (Exodus 6: 6-7).

THEN he includes the fifth expression that denotes the final redemption and purpose.

8. I will bring you to the land, concerning which I raised My hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am HaShem.’ ( Ibid :8)

Moshe and Aaron declare to pharaoh the declarative demand “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” Pharaoh repeatedly refuses. G-d begins the series of supernatural events that will change Egypt

Yet even more importantly they are meant to impact and change the world.

Because this time, I am sending all My plagues into your heart and into your servants and into your people, in order that you know that there is none like Me in the entire earth. ( Ibid 8:14)

After Aaron’s staff turns into a snake and swallows those of the Egyptian sorcerers which have also turned to snakes Hashem releases the ten plagues.

This torah portion deals with the first seven. It is these plagues that G-d will use to demonstrate first to His people, then to the Egyptians and ultimately to the whole world that G-d is ruler and majesty of all creation

The plague of Blood (ibid. 7:14–25), the plague of Frogs ( ibid. 7:25–8:11), the plague of flees and gnats ( ibid 8:12–15,) the plague of Wild Beasts ( ibid . 8:20–32,) the plague of Pestilence ( ibid 9:1–7), the plague of Boils ( ibid. 9:8–12) , and the plague of Hail ( ibid9:13–35)

Our sages explain how the plagues can be seen as three distinct groupings with three distinct teachings to be conveyed. As we read in the Passover Haggadah:

“Rabbi Yehuda used to abbreviate them: ‘Detzakh Adash Be’achav’ (a mnemonic made up of the first letters of each of the ten plagues).”

The ideas are clearly enunciated in each the declaration related to the plagues in each grouping.

The first group ( blood frogs and lice) intending to display

“By this shall you know that I am God” (ibid 7:17). Pharaoh may have tried to use his magic to prove equality with G-d but these plagues destroy that thought and that attempt.

The second group ( flees ,the disease of the cattle and the boils) is meant to convey the following:

“in order that you will know that I am God in the midst of the land ” (ibid 8:18).

That is to say not only is G-d supreme but He is present in relationship with all that goes on in the land affecting our possessions and our very bodies. G-d is not only transcendent but imminent as well.

The third and final group ( Hail. Locusts, darkness and death of the first born) declares “in order that you will know that there is none like Me in all the land.( ibid 9:14)

There is no power in this reality that can contend with the power of HaShem

Yet the heart of Pharaoh was hardened and in spite of these plagues ,he would not let the children of Israel go. This is in keeping with what G-d had told Moshe would happen and is seemingly a critical part of G-d’s plan.

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