Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parasha – Va’eira

Parasha – Va’eira
Last week’s Parasha ended with Moses asking G-d why He brought misfortune to Israel. G-d appeared to him in a burning thorn bush asking Moses to return where his life was once sought after. Why did G-d use a bush to reveal Himself to Moses? Here G-d was telling Moses that He shares Israel’s distress and He too is in pain. Moses tried to talk his way out of this however G-d talked him into it. After G-d had finally talked Moses into returning to Egypt, G-d sought to kill him! Poor Moses wanted nothing to do with Egypt and now G-d is after him. The Midrash states that this is because Moses did not fulfill the commandment of circumcising his son by the end of the eighth day; however Moses life was spared by his wife Tzipporah performing a circumcision right then and there. This can be a discussion all in its self, however it is important to state that this is a lesson for us all to learn from. G-d teaches Moses that before he can help Israel he first needs to be a living example. How often do we try to reach out to others without having our own life clean? Even though G-d asked Moses to leave for Egypt (on a donkey), it did not mean that he could get lax with his own house hold requirements. Now Moses has arrived and confronted Pharaoh however it did not help matters but made things worse in the eyes of the Israelite nation.
It is all about perspective in life; I was once told a story of a young man that his father was a maintenance man for Fenway Park. This young man had an opportunity to go with his father to work and practice some baseball on the field while his father was tending to his duties. This young man would toss the baseball in the air saying out loud “I am the best baseball player that ever lived.” He repeated this quite often annoying one of his father’s co-workers to the point of confronting the young man. He asked the young man, don’t you see that you keep missing but yet you keep yelling “I am the best baseball player that ever lived”. The young man looked at him and said sir, have you ever seen such a good pitcher!
With this said this week’s portion begins with G-d rebuking Moses for even asking the question Exodus 5:22 “My Lord, why have You harmed this people, why have you sent me?” G-d responds Exodus 6:2-3, “I am Hashem and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but through My Name Hashem I did not become known to them”. Here G-d tells Moses the Patriarchs walked by faith without watching their promise being fulfilled and without visually revealing Himself to them. Here Moses has the opportunity to watch the promises unfold and has seen the presence of G-d, but yet lacks faith. G-d ensures Moses that now he will see what is about to happen to Pharaoh. The main point that I would like to discuss in this week’s Parasha is; did either Moses or Pharaoh have a free will or were they destined from the beginning. From the beginning Moses seems to be destined for the mission. He is protected by the Divine Presence at birth, raised by his mother until three years old, and then brought into the palace of Pharaoh. How does one reach out to another? Is it through talking or is it by understanding others. Moses surely could not talk; it says that he was tongue tied. Yet when someone feels unable or unworthy to fulfill G-ds mission is when G-d can truly use a person. This brings forth humility and brokenness which allows G-d to use us for His purpose and not our own. In this case Moses had the opportunity to be taught for a while by his mother and then understand what it was like in the Palace to be able to return to fulfill the mission of saving the Israel nation and giving Egypt the opportunity to repent. Moses had a heart of Gold for all mankind and was perfect for the job, even though by today’s hiring standards one would have to ask the question could Moses find a job.
In the case of Pharaoh did he really have free will? Exodus 4:21-23, “And Hashem said to Moses: “On your journey to return to Egypt, understand all the miracles that I have placed in your hand and do them before Pharaoh; I will harden [Pharaoh’s] heart, and he will not send out the nation. And you shall say to Pharaoh: Thus says Hashem, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn; and He says to you: Send out My son, My firstborn; and He says to you: Send out My son that he should serve Me; because if you refuse to send him out, behold, I shall kill your son, your firstborn!” So does he have a free will or is he just doomed from the get go. G-d gave Pharaoh plenty of opportunities to repent however Pharaoh would not listen, so it looks like G-d used pharaoh as an example to the Israeli nation that G-d is the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These miracles will not only free them, but also give them the strength for thousands of years to come. So to answer the question from my perspective, Pharaoh had multiple opportunities to repent however if ones heart grows hard G-d will turn one away for no return. However G-d shows us even how something this bad can be used for His purpose! Moses on the other hand what a wonderful heart he had and G-d could see it, not just for Israel but for life in general. All of us need to remember to be broken before G-d and truly understand that nothing is possible without Him. The one thing that Pharaoh taught me this week was not to look upon anyone at a different stature in life because we are all equal in the eyes of G-d, He has all given us the breath of life. Pharaoh had it made, he even thought he was god, but in the first three plagues G-d reveals who the real G-d is. Life is not about looking at each other from different religions or different cultural status, but rather from the eyes of the maker who has given us all an equal opportunity.

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