Moses

Parashat Va'era - Exodus 6:2-9:35

The Sacred Name Revealed

If we are paying close attention, we will realize that this week’s portion begins with a rather odd statement that begs for clarification. At first, the opening words of our portion seem contradictory to the basic storyline of what we have learned about God’s relationship with both the patriarchs and with Moses up to this point. Let’s take a careful look at the opening words of our parashah:

Parashat Beshalach - Exodus 13:17-17:16

Don’t Pray. Just obey.

Aren’t we supposed to pray about everything? Shouldn’t we pray before doing anything? After all, Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Why wouldn’t we pray about everything we do? This week’s parashah offers an interesting insight into a very good reason why prayer might not always be the best thing for our situation.

Va'era - Holding on to the Promises

Our parashah begins with God telling Moshe, “Ani Hashem” (6:2). Isn’t this obvious? Hasn’t He already revealed this to Moshe at the burning bush? Why does He tell Moshe this obvious fact here, at the beginning of our portion? Why does He repeat this phrase 16 more times throughout the book of Shemot? Why does He emphasize this fact by using this phrase 49 times in the book of Vayikra, 5 times in the book of Bamidbar, and 2 more times in the book of Devarim? Does Moshe not remember who this Deity is? Does he forget easily and need constant reminding?

Parashat Va'era - Exodus 6:2-9:35

There’s a curious series of events that happen when Moshe and Aaron appear before Pharaoh and begin to display the signs and wonders of Hashem to him and his court. The first thing they do is provide him a sign of their authority from Hashem by turning Aaron’s staff into a serpent. However, Pharaoh’s magicians also turn their staffs into serpents as well. And after Hashem turns the water of Egypt into blood, the magicians of Egypt replicate this miracle as well. It says, “But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts” (Exodus 7:22).

Parashat Shemot - Exodus 1:1-6:1

Last week we concluded the book of Genesis and this week we have begun the book of Exodus. Up to this point we have been studying a brief history of the world leading up to the emergence of the Children of Israel. Beginning in the book of Exodus, however, we now begin to learn about how God calls Israel out from among the other nations of the earth to be a bride to himself. From here we will learn about the marriage covenant between God and Israel, and their unique responsibilities in that covenantal relationship.

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