Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Vaera - 5778

Dear friends,

In this Parasha the theme is 'Geulah' - redemption. It runs along many chapters in this second book of the Torah. The hope, aspiration and long wait for Geulah - redemption from slavery - finally arrives and becomes the title of the entire book, the Book of Exodus.

Last week's Parasha ended with Moses showing disappointment as he pointed out to G-d that, since appearing before Pharaoh to ask for Israel's freedom, things got worse for the slaves. Pharaoh stopped providing straw for the production of the bricks. The slaves had to now fetch their own straw and continue to produce the same number of bricks as before. Because of the hard work, the people asked Moses to just leave them alone. Understandably, Moses questions G-d's decision to send him to Pharaoh.

This Parasha begins with G-d saying to Moses to go back and tell the people of Israel that Redemption is coming. There are four expressions of Geulah found in this verse. Moses is told:

"Therefore say to the children of Israel, I am the L-rd. I shall take you out from under the sufferings of Egypt, I shall save you from their toil, I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm, I shall take you to Me for a nation, and I shall bring you to the land which I promised to your ancestors . . ." (Exodus 6:6-8)

These words might be familiar to you because they are part of the Haggadah that we read during the Seder. Our sages established that one cup of wine be used for each of the four expressions, or promises, of Geulah. The fifth cup - the Cup of Elijah - expresses the hope for the fulfilment of the fifth promise - "I shall bring you to the land..."

Moses is told that the road to Redemption will be long and difficult, because Pharaoh will refuse to let the people go. He will give in only after suffering many plagues and catastrophes. Our moralist teachers emphasize that 'Yetziat Mitzrayim' - the Exodus from Egypt - is an ongoing struggle for every human being. There is a constant inner struggle within each person in how to break away from bad habits, from things that keep us paralyzed and enslaved to old ways. It is not easy, but the promises are there, if only we can find the courage and strength to break away.

As you read this Parasha which describes the breaking of the yoke of slavery and finding redemption with the help of G-d, we can look into these promises and apply them to our individual lives, and find the calmness and satisfaction that comes from being free.

Shabbat Shalom,