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PARSHAT VA’EIRA – THE MIRROR OF THE EXODUS TODAY

בס”ד

PARSHAT Va’eira – 5784

Recognition of G-d’s Ways and Yearning for Redemption

Exodus 6:2


God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am Hashem
 וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹקים אֶל־משֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י ד’

In the verse, we see that Elokim speaks to Moses, and it appears to be more of a scolding than mere conversation. Moses, the greatest prophet and the humblest man, is being rebuked, but why? The answer lies in the previous Parsha, specifically in Exodus 5:22.


Then Moses returned to Hashem and said, “O my lord, why did You bring harm upon this people? Why did You send me?
 כבוַיָּ֧שָׁב משֶׁ֛ה אֶל־ ד’ וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲ”דֹנָ֗י לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֨תָה֙ לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֖ה שְׁלַחְתָּֽנִי:

Moses poses questions to G-d, more akin to complaints than inquiries. It’s essential to note that Moses initially hesitated to go to Egypt, fearing the people were not yet worthy of liberation. Internal strife among the people, as evident from their quarrels and threats towards Moses, led to his departure from Egypt (Exodus 2:14). However, upon addressing the people, who readily believed his words, there was no immediate liberation. Instead, Pharaoh intensified their hardships.

Essentially, Moses challenges G-d, expressing doubt about the chosen plan for liberation. He questions why G-d employs a seemingly slow and diplomatically correct approach, casting doubt on the person chosen to bring about redemption.

Regarding Moses’s humility, he was the humblest man on earth, and individuals are often tested on their strongest qualities. Moses is tested on his humility, as being humble is commendable, but one must not diminish their own worth. Moses, having grown up in Pharaoh’s palace, lacked a “slave” mentality and possessed the mindset of someone with authority and was therefore the most suitable person for the task of leading the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

Initially, it seems G-d does not directly answer Moses’s complaint about the chosen plan for liberation. Can a human comprehend the paths G-d chooses? Isaiah 55:8-9 says:


For My plans are not your plans,
Nor are My ways your ways
—declares G-D.
 כִּ֣י לֹ֚א מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי֙ מַחְשְׁב֣וֹתֵיכֶ֔ם וְלֹ֥א דַרְכֵיכֶ֖ם דְּרָכָ֑י נְאֻ֖ם ד
But as the heavens are high above the earth,
So are My ways high above your ways
And My plans above your plans.
 כִּי־גָֽבְה֥וּ שָׁמַ֖יִם מֵאָ֑רֶץ כֵּ֣ן גָּֽבְה֚וּ דְרָכַי֙ מִדַּרְכֵיכֶ֔ם וּמַחְשְׁבֹתַ֖י מִמַּחְשְׁבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם

In my one words: G-d is implying, “Are you questioning My ways, Moses, something the forefathers did not do? The forefathers trusted in My promises even when unfulfilled. Abraham went to an unknown land, and despite the promised ownership, he had to buy a burial plot. Isaac, promised blessings in the land, faced opposition when seeking water. Jacob paid a significant sum to pitch his tent. They believed in Me, Moses, and I will fulfill what I promised: to free, save, redeem, and bring them to Myself.

Lets Examen Exodus chapter 6:6-7


Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am יהוה. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.
 לָכֵ֞ן אֱמֹ֥ר לִבְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֘ אֲנִ֣י ד’ וְהֽוֹצֵאתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֗ם מִתַּ֨חַת֙ סִבְלֹ֣ת מִצְרַ֔יִם וְהִצַּלְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵֽעֲבֹֽדָתָ֑ם וְגָֽאַלְתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ בִּזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֔ה וּבִשְׁפָטִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים
And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God. And you shall know that I, יהוה, am your God who freed you from the labors of the Egyptians. וְלָֽקַחְתִּ֨י אֶתְכֶ֥ם לִי֙ לְעָ֔ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָכֶ֖ם לֵֽאלֹקים וִֽידַעְתֶּ֗ם כִּ֣י אֲנִ֤י י ד’ אֱלֹ֣קיכֶ֔ם הַמּוֹצִ֣יא אֶתְכֶ֔ם מִתַּ֖חַת סִבְל֥וֹת מִצְרָֽיִם

Sforno on Exodus 6:6:2  gives these 4 different stages of the physical redemption as follows:

1) והוצאתי אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים “And I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt” means there will be an immediate cessation of the Israelites performing slave labor for the Egyptians.

2) והצלתי, And I will deliver you” refers to the day the Israelites would depart from Ramses, when they would cross the border out of the land of Egypt.

3) וגאלתי, And I will redeem you” refers to the day the pursuing Egyptians would be drowned in the sea, as testified in Exodus 14:30, “and the Lord saved on that day, etc.” After the death of those who enslaved them, the enslaved are obviously free.

4) ולקחתי And I will take you” as My people – this will occur at the revelation at Mount Sinai.

We can see the redemption from Egypt also as a prelude to leaving our personal Egypt. Chazal teaches that the redemption from Egypt mirrors the Final Redemption. Let’s delve into our personal recovery from Egypt.

Spiritually, we can interpret the four steps of redemption. Egypt represents a land farthest from G-d, immersed in deep darkness and prioritizing the material over the spiritual. To leave our personal Egypt, we must undergo these steps:

  1. Cease enslavement to sins by immediately discontinuing wrong behavior.
  2. Replace wrong behavior with good conduct to prevent relapse into intensified old habits.
  3. Delve into understanding G-d’s will by studying the Torah and the Seven Noahide Laws for constant improvement.
  4. Acknowledge G-d’s help in the process, expressing gratitude for His guiding hand.

Improving behavior, submitting to G-d’s kingship, and observing the Seven Noahide Laws contribute not only to personal redemption but also to the redemption of the world, aligning with the Final Redemption. This Final Redemption mirrors the Exodus, as indicated in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 111a), drawing insights from Hosea 2:17.

I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a plowland of hope.
There she shall respond as in the days of her youth,
When she came up from the land of Egypt.
 יזוְנָתַ֨תִּי לָ֚הּ אֶת־כְּרָמֶ֙יהָ֙ מִשָּׁ֔ם וְאֶת־עֵ֥מֶק עָכ֖וֹר לְפֶ֣תַח תִּקְוָ֑ה וְעָ֚נְתָה שָּׁ֙מָּה֙ כִּימֵ֣י נְעוּרֶ֔יהָ וּכְי֖וֹם עֲלוֹתָ֥הּ מֵאֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרָֽיִם:

Similar to non-Jews joining the Exodus to worship the Eternal, today witnesses an increasing acknowledgment of the G-d of Israel by diverse individuals striving to follow His commandments.

Just as the ancient Israelites cried out to G-d for redemption, today’s people echo those calls, yearning for Messiah. Despite uncertainties and delays, akin to Moses’s perplexity, trust is paramount. The ten plagues aimed for Pharaoh to acknowledge G-d’s existence, resulting in active compliance and blessings (Exodus 5:2 – 12:32).

In the Final Redemption, nations will recognize G-d as the only deity, actively seeking knowledge from Israel for blessings. The world will brim with the knowledge of G-d, and His Name will be One.

The crucial lesson today lies in learning to trust. G-d’s promised Final Redemption will materialize, and questioning the course of events is futile. G-d, in His omniscience, acts for the collective good.

Observing social media reveals beautiful gatherings where people unite to pray, sing, and glorify G-d—a testament to the beginning of redemption within people’s hearts.

From my own observation, I see many beautiful things on various social media platforms. Large groups of people coming together to pray, sing, thank, and glorify G-d. It is there that redemption begins, in the hearts of people.

Learning Points

1. Trust in Divine Timing: Just as Moses and the people of Israel were impatient and doubted G-d’s plan in the Exodus, this story reminds us to trust in G-d’s perfect timing, even if we don’t fully understand the reasons.

2. Spiritual Reflection and Growth: The four steps of redemption, both physically and spiritually, offer lessons for personal growth. Becoming aware of sins, replacing them with virtuous behavior, gaining deeper insight into G-d’s will, and recognizing that G-d’s assistance is essential are key components for spiritual development.

3. Inclusivity in G-d’s Design: Just as non-Jews joined the Exodus, the story reminds us of the inclusivity in G-d’s plan. Today, we witness a growing acknowledgment of G-d’s ways by diverse individuals, emphasizing the importance of shared redemption and the sharing of spiritual values, regardless of background, former beliefs, race, or culture.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

Chabad: Kehot Chumash text based learning Va’eria
Likutey Moharan 1, 22:end
Kol Yehuda by Rabbi Yehuda Amital

Texts from Sefaria.org


With thanks to B. Yaniger for the inspiration and feedback

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