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Va’eira Summaries

Va’eira 5779-2018

“The Cups of Redemption”

Rabbi Asher Weiss maintains that there are four levels of slavery that parallel the four languages of liberation found in parashat Va’eira, and are represented by the four cups of wine that we drink at the Passover Seder.

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Va’eira 5778-2018

“Participating in the Communal Pain”

The names of the sons of Levi reflect the fact that the tribe of Levi felt the communal pain for all the tribes of Israel, even though they themselves were not personally afflicted.

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Va’eira 5777-2017

“The Dangers of Self Delusion”

When Pharaoh saw that there was relief from the plague of frogs, he hardened his heart. There is grave danger in self-delusion, thinking that now that relief has arrived, we will no longer be held accountable.

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Va’eira 5776-2016

“The Lessons of Genealogy”

The genealogy of Moses and Aaron teaches many important principles about life, and provides insightful life lessons for all to master.

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Va’eira 5775-2015

“The Measure of Brotherly Love”

Why does Scripture delve into the genealogy of Moses and Aaron with such detail?

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Va’eira 5774-2013

“Moses, the Reluctant Prophet”

How could any mortal refuse the Al-mighty’s mission, especially when G-d sends Moses to redeem His people, whom Moses loves so dearly?

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Va’eira 5773-2013

“The ‘Outstretched Arm’ and the ‘Mighty Hand’”

Why does the Al-mighty rescue Israel with both an “outstretched arm” and a “mighty hand”?

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Va’eira 5772-2012

“The Decline and Collapse of the Egyptian Magicians”

The Bible reports that the Egyptian magicians encourage Pharaoh’s resistance by replicating several of the Ten Plagues. Soon, however, we learn of the precipitous decline and collapse of the Egyptian magicians.

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Va’eira 5771-2011

“Messages from the Nile”

As the central feature of Egypt, it was logical that the Nile would be the first object of G-d’s wrath. Hence, the first two plagues, blood and frogs, are visited upon the Nile. But, there is much more that the Nile represents.

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Va’eira 5770-2010

“Shortness of Breath and Hard Work”

The Bible states that the ancient Israelites could not hear Moses’ favorable message of G-d’s impending salvation due to “shortness of breath and hard work.” What does this mean? And what are the implications for contemporary times?

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Va’eira 5769-2009

“Why Didn’t the Egyptians Rebel Against Pharaoh?”

Egypt had already suffered through seven plagues. The Egyptian people were down on their knees. Why didn’t the citizens rebel against Pharaoh? Why did they allow their storied civilization to be destroyed before their very eyes?

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Va’eira 5768-2007

“Moses, the Exalted Leader”

Moses, the greatest prophet of Israel, comes to his position of leadership through much pain and profound challenge. Without charisma, and barely qualifying as a speaker, he teaches that leadership is based on moral courage and uncompromising devotion to truth.

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Va’eira 5767-2007

“Even a Hardened Heart has a Silver Lining”

The fact that G-d hardens the heart of Pharaoh presents many theological issues, but what is often overlooked is that as a result of Pharaoh hardening his heart, the Jews achieved full liberation from Egypt, rather than to go out to the wilderness, worship G-d there for three days and have to return to Egypt.

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Va’eira 5766-2006

“Becoming Accustomed to the Burdens”

Why had the time now come to free Israel from bondage? While many reasons are offered, Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Peschischa suggests that G-d felt that the ancient Hebrews were becoming too accustomed to suffering–so it had to stop. A parallel may be drawn to contemporary times, when people become indifferent and unresponsive to the immorality of our own environment.

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Va’eira 5765-2005

“Teaching a New Reality About Divine Power Through The Ten Plagues”

The ten plagues were not simply ten random events. They were carefully structured symbols that came to negate contemporary Egyptian beliefs, and teach very powerful lessons about faith in G-d and His ultimate power. The ten plagues also successfully worked to discredit the power of the chartoomim and chachamim, Pharaoh’s sorcerers and wise men.

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Va’eira 5764-2004

“The Names of G-d and Their Meanings”

The names of G-d are many, each revealing to the world a different aspect of the Creator. In this parasha, the universe’s understanding of G-d is heightened by Moses to a level never before conceived, even by the patriarchs. After Moses, the world’s notion of G-d is never to be the same again.

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Va’eira 5763-2002

“The Exodus–A ‘Primitive Story’ with Revolutionary Implications”

Jewish history is often perceived, with great justification, as one unending series of tragedies, pogroms, expulsions, inquisitions, crusades, destructions, exiles, and ultimately–holocausts. Even a cursory review of the Jewish calendar confirms this dark perspective. In truth, this perception is incorrect. Jewish history is really one unending series of moral, educational and ethical triumphs and victories, but we fail to perceive it. We often fail to recognize the untold revolutionary contributions that Judaism has made to humanity. When we study the traditions of Judaism in depth, particularly the traditions of Passover, we see that we have much of which to be proud. We must let the world know about it.

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Va’eira 5762-2002

“Can We Question G-d and Get Away With It?”

Parashat Va’eira opens with G-d berating Moses for saying that things have only gotten worse for the people of Israel since Moses intervention. Strict interpretation holds Moses accountable for his presumptuousness, eventually resulting in his inability to enter the promised land. The more liberal interpretation implies that G-d desires to be challenged, hoping to find justification that would exonerate those guilty of improper acts.

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Va’eira 5761-2001

“The Subtle Slavery”

The Torah tells us that Pharaoh literally had to chase the Jews out of Egypt, not only because Egypt was the country that they knew as their home, but because Egypt embodied values from which they were not prepared to separate. It is this “subtle slavery,” embodied in our admiration for, and indeed worship of, alien cultures, that is a cause of concern for Jews, even today.

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Va’eira 5760-2000

“G-d Hardens Pharaoh’s Heart: Reconciling Omniscience and Free Will”

Our commentators struggle over G-d’s statement to Moses: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” Does this imply that G-d has taken away Pharaoh’s free will? Among the host of responses offered by the commentators is that Pharaoh hardened his own heart during the first 5 plagues, and was punished by G-d hardening Pharaoh’s heart during the last 5 plagues. Many of the responses given by the commentators to this issue are quite insightful and resourceful. They must be studied carefully in order to appreciate them fully.

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