Weekly Reading Insights: Vaera 5764



Overview of the Weekly Reading: Va'era

To be read on 1 Shvat 5764 (Jan.24 )

Va'era is the 2nd Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 14th overall, and 16th out of 54 in overall length.
Exodus 6:2-9:35 Maftir (for Rosh Chodesh): Numbers 28:9-15
Haftorah: Isaiah 66 (for Rosh Chodesh)

Pirkei Avot: not till after Passover

Va'era opens with G-d instructing Moshe to tell the Jews His promise to free them, but the Jews were not receptive due to their disappointment and harsh slavery. Listed next is the lineage of some Jewish families, mostly that of Moshe and Aharon. G-d told Moshe to perform a sign before Pharaoh: Aharon threw down Moshe's staff which turned into a serpent. When Pharaoh's magicians turned their staffs into snakes, Moshe's staff swallowed their staffs. The first plague: all water in Egypt turned to blood. Pharaoh's magicians also turned water to blood, and Pharaoh hardened his heart. The water remained blood for seven days. Next was the plague of frogs. This too the magicians duplicated. Pharaoh agreed to let the Jews go worship, but once the plague ended, Pharaoh rescinded. The magicians could not, however, duplicate the third plague of lice. They were awed by G-d's power, but Pharaoh was obstinate. Afterwards were the plagues of wild beasts, an epidemic on livestock, boils, and hail. The plagues didn't harm the Jews. Each time Pharaoh made conditions and concessions, but with the plague's conclusion, the promises evaporated.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:14-64/Va'era )

It is to know that there is a ruling force above who is the Master of the world. He created all of the worlds [ Atzilut, Beriya, Yetzira and Asiya], the heavens and the earth and all of their forces.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:14-64/Va'era )

It is interesting to note that these two sons of Aaron both personified the sadness that results from the existential fact of being under the domain of the forces of evil as well as the inspiration born of Divine ecstasy as evidenced at the inauguration of the Tabernacle.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:14-64/Va'era )

One reason G-d desires a dwelling place amongst man on earth is that man combines within him the attributes of the creatures in the physical world with the attributes of the creatures in the spiritual world.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians." (6:6)

The Jewish people possess an extra measure of patience, a special capacity for enduring the trials and tribulations of exile. And yet, when the exact time for redemption comes, they find it impossible to continue. This in itself is a sign that the redemption is imminent.

(Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Charlop)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:14-64/Va'era)

The whole book of Exodus, particularly the first five weekly readings, is about redemption. Moshe and Aharon are the leaders setting the example of how we are to imbue ourselves with redemption and express it with our every move.

Lukutei Torah (from Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe of Chabad whose yahrzeit was Sunday) deals with the question in this week's reading: 'Why do we find that the verses sometimes say, "Aharon and Moshe"(6/26) and sometimes, "Moshe and Aharon"(6/27)? Moshe was the greatest prophet of all time, the one person who spoke face to face with G-d. Therefore, in the broadest spiritual terms Moshe embodies Torah study. Torah is
G-d's will and wisdom that descends to this world from above, telling us how to make the world a G-dly place. Torah study places us face to face with G-d, drawing Divine energy from above to below. Aharon, on the other hand, is the embodiment of prayer. This is so because Aharon was first High Priest. Since the destruction of the Temple, prayers are in place of the offerings that were brought therein. Through prayer, every Jew becomes empowered like the High Priest. Via prayer, the energy generated by our Divine service ascends upwards from this world. Moshe and Aharon, Torah study and prayer, are alternative parts of a cycle constantly moving up and down, heavenward and earthward. All of this leads to revealing the coming redemption.

In this context, the verses sometimes refer to Moshe first, to tell us that in order to accomplish our goals of transforming the world to reveal the redemption, we have to begin spiritual efforts with Torah study. The drawing down divine energy will ultimately allow for praying with divine love. On the other hand, sometimes Aharon must come before Moshe, teaching that in order to study Torah, we have to arouse our hearts from below, by using the world and its events as a platform from which to pray. Then we will be able to learn Torah in an appropriate manner.

Going deeper, the Alter Rebbe's grandson and third Chabad Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, writes that in the eternal drama played out in the Torah verses, Moshe represents a level of connecting to G-d that requires us to move beyond our intellect, such as imposing the Torah view on reality. Aharon, on the other hand, stands for connecting to G-d through the intellect, just like prayer uses the world as its base. Similarly, the term 'Jewish people' hints to the divine inclination (G-dly soul) within us. The mention of Pharaoh refers to the physical inclination, (animal soul) within us. Verse 26 speaks about taking the Jewish people out of Egypt, so there, Aharon precedes Moshe. Conversely, when the verse (27) mentions Pharaoh, Moshe is first.

This is so because when we have an issue with our divine soul, when we want to give it a nudge and move it out of its malaise, it is enough to sit down and have a good 'think'-to use the level of Aharon, intellectual arguments, like "If not now, then when?" On the other hand, when it is our animal soul that is problematic, when we are just a bit too attached to the world, we need to connect to a level higher than the intellect if we want to experience the redemption. This is why Moshe is mentioned first. Torah study or prayer, intellect or higher than intellect, divine soul and animal soul, we want the true and final redemption now.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul Leiter

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