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Parashas Va'eira


"This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or fewer."

G'd revealed Himself in the full Glory of His name to Moshe: "I am Hashem", where he only was known by the name "El Shaddai" to his forefathers.

G'd recalled the Covenant of the Ancients to give them the land of Canaan.

He affirmed He had heard the groan of the Children of Israel afflicted by the exile of Egypt.

Hashem told Moshe to say to the Children of Israel: "I am Hashem, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt, I shall rescue you from their service; I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements. I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G'd to you, and you shall know that I am Hashem, your G'd, Who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt. I shall bring you to the land about which I raised My hand to give it to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I shall give it to you as a heritage – I am Hashem."

So Moshe spoke to the Children of Israel but they did not listen, having no time nor the mental space because of the affliction of the Egyptian exile.

Moshe virtually asked G'd: "If they do not listen, how will Pharaoh?"

Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron and again commanded them regarding the Children of Israel and Pharaoh.

The Torah then enumerates the heads of the Tribes of Israel, Jacob's sons:

Reuben's sons, Reuben being Israel's firstborn, were Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.

The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, and Zohar; and Shaul, the son of a Canaaite woman.

Levi's sons were: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari, Levi's years of life were 137 years.

The sons of Gershon were Livni and Shimei.

The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Kohath's years of life were 133 years.

Merari's sons were Mahli and Musih.

Amram took his aunt Jochebed as a wife. Amram's years of life were 137 years.

Amram's and Jochebed's sons and daughters were Aaron, and Moshe, and their older sister Miriam.

Izhar's sons were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri.

Uzziel's sons were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Sithri.

Aaron took Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Nahshon, as a wife; and their sons were Nadab, and Abihu, Elazar, and Ithamar.

Korah's sons were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiaspah. The Prophet Samuel was going to come from these children, they would remain righteous while their father wouldn't.

Elazar, son of Aaron, married Putiel, and their son was Phineas.

At this point, the Torah concludes the list of the leaders of the fathers of the Levites.

G'd sent out Moshe, and Hashem spoke to Moshe and said: "I am Hashem. Speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, everything that I speak to you."

Moshe said before Hashem: "Behold, I have sealed lips, so how shall Pharaoh heed me?"

G'd confirmed to Moshe that He had made Moshe a master over Pharaoh, and that Aaron, Moshe's brother, shall be his spokesperson.

Moshe would speak to Aaron and Aaron would relate everything that Moshe told him to Pharaoh.

Moshe was eighty years old and Aaron was eighty-three years old.

When Moshe and Aaron come before Pharaoh, Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and it became a snake.

Pharaoh's necromancers also managed to turn their staffs into snakes. When all the snakes turned back into staffs, Aaron's staff swallowed the other staffs.

Pharaoh did not heed Moshe and Aaron when they asked him to send away the Children of Israel from his land.

From then on, a pattern would emerge where Moshe and Aaron would repeatedly ask Pharaoh to let the Children of Israel go.

Pharaoh would keep refusing their requests.

Moshe and Aaron would respond to Pharaoh's refusals by informing him about a plague that G'd would send.

When the plague would become too much for Pharaoh to bear, he would summon Moshe and Aaron, ask them to make the plague stop, and repent, promising to let the Children of Israel go.

Moshe and Aaron would then entreat Hashem to take away plague.

When the plague stopped, Pharaoh would change course and not let the Children of Israel go, whereupon Moshe and Aaron were informed by G'd about the next plague and in turn, Moshe and Aaron would inform Pharaoh of the next plague.

As the first plague, Hashem turned the water of the river Nile into blood.

Pharaoh's necromancer also managed to turn water into blood.

As a second plague, Egypt was struck with frogs.

Pharaoh's necromancers also emulated this plague.

As a third plague, Egypt was infested by lice.

Pharaoh's necromancers were unable to draw forth lice themselves, and they explained to Pharaoh that this was a "finger of G'd".

A swarm of wild beasts ascended over Egypt as a fourth plague.

A severe epidemic struck all the livestock of Egypt as the fifth plague.

Boils and blisters erupted on men and beast in all of Egypt.

The seventh plague was hail, the hail was mixed with fire and struck the livestock, the people, and the fields of Egypt. It struck the flax and the barley, but it did not strike the wheat and the spelt, since those ripened later.

The first part of the Parasha dedicates a lot of time to listing out the leaders of the tribe of Levi. The tribe of Levi was chosen to be the tribe to perform the priestly service after Jacob took away this duty from his first born Reuben. But while all sons of Levi are considered worthy, even in those tribe many members are limited by birth with regards to what they can do. Only Aaron and his sons become Kohanim.

The Torah mentions Shaul as the son of Simeon and a Canaaite woman. Some sages say this Canaaite woman is Dinah.

The plagues resemble tzaraas: Just as tzaaras is a sign on a person to show that some areas of one's personal life might deserve reconsideration, the plagues were signs of nature to show G'd's displeasure with what was happening in Egypt.

After each plague, the Torah says that G'd hardened Pharaoh's heart. Some sages interpret this to mean that some people are so wicked that they are not given the opportunity to repent. Others say that G'd took away Pharaoh's fear, so that Pharaoh would make his future decisions unimpeded by fear and would pick what he truly wanted.

Rabbi Moshe Perets
Samira Lopes Coelho


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