Weekly Reading Insights: Va'era 5766


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Va'era

To be read on 28 Tevet 5766 (Jan.28)

Torah: Exodus 6:2-9:35; Haftorah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21 (mentions the ultimate punishment of Pharoh)

Va'era is the 2nd Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 14th overall, and 16th out of 54 in overall length.

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 Pharaoh agreed to let the Jews go worship, but once the plague ended, Pharaoh rescinded.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:1466/Va'era)

However, this is the secret: Moses [was granted] voice [when G-d told him, "I will be with your mouth"], but speech as expression in words [referring to malchut[1] ], was [still] in exile. He was unable to express [himself in] words. And for this reason he said, "How will Pharaoh listen to me? As long as words are in exile, I have no way to express myself. I [am on the level of] voice, but I am missing words, which are in exile." So the Holy Blessed One G-d partnered him with Aaron.

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

* * * * *

From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:1466/Va'era)

It is true that what we say - that Abraham [personified] chesed and Isaac [personified] gevura - does not refer to the arms of Zeir Anpin, as most of the [earlier] authorities of Kabbalah think.

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

* * * * *

From Rabbi Moshe Alshich (O:1466/Va'era)

G-d demonstrated that Moses possessed the power to command the other two basic elements, fire and wind, by using the air to freeze the water into hail, containing fire at its core (Gen. 9:24). Also, the 8th plague, that of locusts, was initiated by Moses, by causing the wind to bring the locust to Egypt. Similarly, the plague of darkness was due to a thickening of air pollution which made seeing through it impossible.

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


"You shall know that I am the L-rd your G-d, Who brings you out." (6:7)

The Holy One, Blessed Be He, promised the Jewish people that not only would He take them out of Egypt, but also that they would know it was He Who had redeemed them; the redemption itself would serve to deepen their understanding and faith in G-d. Indeed, this is the purpose of all redemptions and salvations: that through them we come to recognize the true Redeemer and Savior.

(Sefat Emet)


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

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"Aharon's staff then swallowed their staffs." (7:12)

G-d sent Moshe and Aharon to Pharaoh to urge him to send the Jews out
of Egypt. G-d told them that should Pharaoh ask for a sign that it is
G-d who is sending them, Moshe should tell Aharon to hit his staff on
the ground and it will become a snake.

Moshe and Aharon did as they were commanded, and when Aharon's staff
became a snake, Pharaoh ordered that his own magicians do the same.
They did so, but then the unexpected happened: Aharon's staff
swallowed up all the snakes of the magicians without getting any
fatter and without any trace of any other change!

This is a symbol for us of the final redemption, when those who
fought against the Jews will be swallowed up without any trace.

This prophecy is written in Isaiah (41:12): "You will search for
those who fight you and you will not find them; those who make war
with you will become like nothing."

[Adapted from Discover Moshiach in the Weekly Torah Portion (by Rabbi Berel Bell and the students of Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary of Montreal), as published on www.mashiach.org]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:1466/Va'era)

"Moshe told the Jewish people [that G-d would redeem them amidst wonders and miracles], and they did not listen to Moshe…" (6/9). The Kotzker Rebbe asks a simple question: in last week's portion, (3/18), G-d promised Moshe that 'the Jewish people will listen to your voice'. How is it possible that G-d's promise was not fulfilled? The Kotzker's answer is that if you look at the words, G-d's promise was that the Jewish people will listen "to your voice-l'kolecha", and not 'to what you say-b'kolecha'.

This was G-d's response to what Moshe would ask, 'How will the Jewish people listen to me, I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue'. 'Don't worry', G-d told Moshe, 'you will speak clearly and the Jewish people will hear the words that you will say without any problem'. The question is would the Jews take to heart the content of Moshe's words? That, G-d could not promise, because everything is in the hands of heaven except for the fear of heaven. Leaving exile to serve G-d is a commandment. Therefore, taking oneself out of exile depends on the person's will. You have to want to be redeemed. That was true then in the first exile, and it is true now in this final exile.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe makes the point in a different way. Moshe says similar things twice. In last week's portion (3/18) Moshe says, 'I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue'. In this week's portion (6/30), Moshe says, 'My lips are not circumcised'. What new idea was Moshe trying to express? In last week's portion, G-d answered, 'I will be with your mouth', and when Moshe persisted, G-d responds again, 'Your brother Aharon 'will be your mouth''. What new claim was Moshe's making in this week's portion? Last week Moshe said he could speak, but only with difficulty. In this week's portion, Moshe says that his lips are uncircumcised-that his lips are sealed, and he can not speak at all. The difficulties of the exile were so great, he felt totally helpless.

So G-d answered him, 'I am making YOU to be E-lokim - a G-d-to Pharaoh'. Moshe's mission changed. Beforehand, Moshe would convey the content of G-d's message to Aharon who would then announce it. From this week's portion, G-d appointed Moshe as His emissary to deal with Pharaoh. Sometimes the darkness is so great, we can not do it alone. G-d's answer to the Jewish people is that in every exile, when the situation becomes the darkest, we must know that the only way to take ourselves out, is to totally nullify ourselves to G-d's will, to become His emissary. Only by focusing on what is our divine mission in that situation, and fulfilling it, will we be redeemed. Our everyday Jewish actions affect the highest celestial planes. Don't underestimate that one small mitzvah we do can tip the scale and bring Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom , Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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