Torah Portion: Sh’mot Exodus 6-9 Va’era (I Appeared)
HafTorah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Again there is much to talk about tonight. In this Torah portion we read about the first seven of the ten plagues G-d brought upon Egypt. We read about Pharaoh’s reaction to the slow destruction of his country and we always come back to “why” did he not recognize against whom he battled? What does this say to us in our life as well? What do we do when facing G-d’s will for our lives? Sometimes we battle against G-d when we think we are in charge instead of Him.
I want to begin with why did G-d bring these plagues upon Egypt rather than just taking the people out immediately? All it would have taken was a word from His mouth. I think we see G-d’s answer to this question in Sh’mot/Exodus 9:14. G-d did this to make a point. In Hebrew the words are “Ain Kimoni.” Basically He was saying, “I am the greatest.” In the end it left no doubt to both the children of Israel and Pharaoh who G-d is. If you remember Pharaoh was looked upon by his people as the son of the sun. Ra was the highest Egyptian god and Pharaoh was believed to be his son. Think about the first and the ninth plagues. Now look at Ezekiel 29:3. G-d said He was against Pharaoh because Pharaoh said he had made the Nile. It was his. As the son of Ra, the sun god, Pharaoh was the one thought to provide light to the people for crops to grow.
So in these two plagues that were directed toward Pharaoh, G-d was making a point, “There is no one greater – Ain Kimoni. “I am the L-rd, there is none like Me.” G-d was making His name known to Pharaoh, to Egypt and the world. He was reminding the people of Israel who He was. From this time on His great Name would be known. Also, the other plagues followed up with this same statement. The gods of the Egyptians had no power over the L-rd of heaven and earth.
G-d tells the people of Israel what He is giving them in Sh’mot/Exodus 6:8. He is taking them to the Land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And He is giving it to them as a heritage. Again, the Hebrew word used here is “Morasha” which translates as heritage This word is used in scripture only twice, once here and also to describe the giving of the Torah later on.
I think this is an important word for us to consider in our own life. What does it mean? How does it differ from an inheritance? In Hebrew the words are very similar. Inheritance is “Yerusha” and heritage is “Morasha.” An inheritance is something that involves the passing down of material possessions, usually from parents to children. An inheritance can be lost easily by economic conditions or by bad decisions. It does not require any effort on the part of the person receiving it. It just comes to the child because of their relationship.
However, a heritage is vastly different. Inheritance requires no effort from the person receiving. Heritage must be worked for. To maintain a heritage requires your active involvement. In our life the heritage that we pass on to the next generation requires effort on our part to teach what is truly important, what truly matters and makes us who we are. In the physical world it might be a love of art or music. Personally, my father gave me, as part of my heritage, an appreciation and love of fine wooden furniture, especially antiques. I can still remember his reaction to a beautiful piece of furniture he had refinished.
However much more importantly is the spiritual heritage that we pass on to our children. It is important to instill in our children our faith, what makes us who we are before G-d, what gets us through difficult times. I pray this is the heritage that we all leave behind when we leave this world. This can and should also be what other people get from us spiritually. How do we affect those around us? Our inheritance can be gone tomorrow but a heritage can span generations.
So, here we see the Land of Israel being described as a heritage. In D’Varim/Deut. 33:4 the Torah is also described as a heritage, things that Jewish people have held on to for thousands of years. It is never too late for us to set our minds to leave a strong spiritual heritage behind. There is no greater gift to leave for our children and friends.