Torah Portion: Va’era (I Appeared) Sh’mot (Exodus) 6:2-9:35

HafTorah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21

Tonight we read the portion of Torah that covers most of the plagues that G-d was to bring on the people of Egypt and to rescue His bride. We could see this as a contest between G-d and a man who thought he was god and others thought he was god. So, Pharaoh could not relent to the demands of a shepherd and a bunch of slaves. In fact last week we read in Exodus 5:2, “Who is the L-rd that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the L-rd and I will not let Israel go.” The word, know, here is the Hebrew word for intimate knowledge. Maybe he had heard some reference somewhere to a Jewish G-d but he had no personal knowledge and deemed it beneath him to listen to this shepherd.

So this brings us to Exodus 6:2, the opening verse of our section this week. Here G-d shares His name with Moses and tells Moses that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob only knew Him by El Shaddai but by His Holy Name they did not know him. Now look at verses in Genesis 12:7, 13:4, 14:22, 15:7-8. My first question this week was how do we reconcile this seeming contradiction. Why does G-d say they did not know Him by that name? Rashi says that they knew the word but did not grasp the meaning of the word. They believed Him by faith but did not grasp the meaning of the word. They believed Him by faith but did not see the fulfillment of His promise. (Hebrew 11:8, 17-19) G-d here reveals to Moses that He is faithful to His word. He is a Covenant Keeper. He does not change. He is filled with mercy. He is faithful to keep His word. All the things that He promised to the Patriarchs were about to come to pass. Hebrews 11:13.

It is like us in our own life. We come to faith at some time in our lives but we do not grasp all that G-d has for us. In fact sometimes we never do and we live out our lives with a very limited knowledge of G-d and what He has for us. We may hear about it and think well that’s nice maybe someday. And maybe some things do take time but we know the Name of G-d and what it means. So we live each day drawing closer and closer to grasping the depths of His love for us. That full knowledge may not come until we see Him in His glory but our lives as believers should be poured out in knowing Him instead of the trivia that so easily consumes us. Which brings me to my second point found in She’mot 6:9. Here we see the condition of the bride whom G-d loved so much. As we read this verse I want each of us to think if you have ever been or maybe you are now in this place.

The word translated despondency in Hebrew is MeKetzer Ruach or literally, shortness of breath or shortness of spirit. How would you describe someone like this. People who have been beaten down physically or spiritually or both. When we are in this place it is really hard to keep our self together. We no longer have the strength to hope. Look at the world today. Is it suffering from shortness of breath? The fact is however we have the answer. We have the solution. For ourselves how do we get out of it – this loss of hope.

First, we must admit our condition. How did we get here, where did we wander away? We must make the effort with whatever we have left to realize our only hope is in Him who is the Lover of our souls. We put our selves in places where we can hear Him, where He can speak to us, shutting out the noise of the world and going into spiritual recovery. Taking our medicine so to speak. We can’t help others if we are beaten down ourselves.

Lastly I asked what was the purpose of the plagues.

  1. 1.To rescue the G-d’s people
  2. 2.Egypt would know G-d (Ex 5:2)
  3. 3.The children of Israel would know Him (Ex 10:2)

For us the last one is relevant. When we recount what G-d has done for us it encourages us by renewing our spiritual breath, G-d’s power in our lives and our role in helping to restore this world to a knowledge of Him