1. Pinner Shul
  2. Sedra Synopsis
  3. Va’era 5783

This week’s sedra is so full of drama, including the first seven plagues, that it would make a great musical (think Prince of Egypt).

Hashem speaks to Moses (Exodus 6:5) “I heard the moans of the Children of Israel, whom the Egyptians are holding in slavery, and I remembered my covenant.” Hashem explains to Moses (Exodus 6:6-7) that he will redeem the Jewish people in four
successive stages.

“I will TAKE YOU OUT from the suffering of Egypt, and I will DELIVER you from their bondage; I will REDEEM you with outstretched arm and with great judgements. I will TAKE YOU TO MYSELF as a nation, and I will be to you a God”.

These stages form the theme of four in our seder services each Pesach (the four cups of wine, the four questions, the four sons etc). There is also a tradition that the wearing of tefillin is a daily reminder of the ‘outstretched / mighty arm’.

Moses conveys Hashem’s instructions to the Children of Israel without success. Moses and Aaron repeatedly come before Pharaoh to demand in the name of God, “Let my people go, so that they may serve me in the wilderness.”

Pharaoh repeatedly refuses. Aaron’s staff turns into a snake and swallows the magic sticks of the Egyptian sorcerers. God then sends a series of plagues upon the Egyptians. The waters of the Nile turn to blood; swarms of  frogs overrun the land; lice infest all men and beasts.

Hordes of wild animals invade the cities; a plague kills the domestic animals; painful boils afflict the Egyptians. For the seventh plague, fire and ice combine to descend from the skies as a devastating hail. Still, “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened and he would not let the Children of Israel go, as God had said to Moses.”

Simon Hodes

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