Torah Commentary

Divine Violence and Abolition in Egypt

January 1, 2022Rabbi Hilly Haber
In Parshat Va-eira, we watch as God's message of freedom unfolds across Egypt and is ignored, scorned by Israelites and Egyptians alike. We watch as moral suasion, peaceful resistance, and God's word fail to bring about liberation and an end to oppression. In the wake of this failure, God visits 10 plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the first 7 of which appear in this week's portion.

Why So Many Plagues?

January 11, 2021Rabbi Mary Zamore

In the past few months, we have experienced many extraordinary catastrophes. From raging fires up the Pacific Coast that have blocked out sunlight to waves of hurricanes that have flooded the Southeast – all of this in addition to the

What It Takes to Fulfill the Promise

January 25, 2020Rabbi Stephanie M. Alexander

There is a section of Parashat Va-eira that might sound familiar to those who have experienced a Passover seder: It's a list of five promises God makes to the Children of Israel: I will free you..., and deliver you...; I will redeem you...;  I will take you to be My people; and , I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob... (Ex. 6:6-8).

Shortness of Breath, Shortness of Spirit

January 13, 2018Rabbi Sarah Bassin

In Va-eira, Moses tries to speak with the Israelites, who cannot listen due to their kotzer ruach, which can mean “shortness of breath” or “crushed spirit.” Both are results of debilitating work that prevents the Israelites from looking up to see new possibilities.