Weekly Portion: Va’eira (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

Here begin the story of the Ten Plagues which God put upon the Egyptians not only to effect the release of the Jewish people from bondage, but to show the world that He is the God of all creation and history. The first nine plagues are divisible into three groups: 1) the water turning to blood, frogs, lice 2) wild beasts, pestilence/epidemic, boils 3) hail, locust, and darkness.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that these were punishments measure for measure for afflicting the Jewish people with slavery: 1) The first of each group reduced Egyptians in their own land to the insecurity of strangers. 2) The second of each group robbed them of pride, possessions and a sense of superiority. 3) The third in each group imposed physical suffering.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states that:

“Moshe (Moses) spoke thus (that the Almighty will take you out, rescue you, redeem you with great judgments, take you for a people, be a God to you and bring you into the land of Israel) to the Children of Israel and they did not listen to Moshe because of anguish of spirit and hard work.” (Exodus 6:9)

Why didn’t the Jewish people listen inasmuch as Moshe was giving them such fabulous news?

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen, in his commentary Meshech Chochmah, explains that they did not listen to the message that Moshe gave them because when someone is suffering very much, all he wants to hear is that his suffering will be removed. He is not yet ready to hear that he will have good fortune and much success in the future. If someone paints a too positive picture of the future, it is so far removed from his present reality that he will not be able to relate to it. Therefore, we read in verse 6:13 that the Almighty told Moshe to just tell them that they will be taken out of Egypt, without any mention a bright future.

This is an important principle when trying to give people emotional support and encouragement. If you give a picture that is beyond their present ability to relate to, your words will not be comforting even if you have very good intentions. Telling someone who is in deep emotional distress, “Don’t worry all will be well in the future” might not have a positive effect. Show the person how to get out of the present pain and only then will you be able to give more optimistic messages!


Leave a Reply