Sedra of the Week: Vaera
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Analysis

Sedra of the Week: Vaera

Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein takes a look at the forthcoming portion of the Torah

In this week’s Torah portion we encounter the very first public “beyond nature” event. The God of the Hebrews demonstrates that He is different to the pantheon of gods to whom people had been praying. 

Those gods, as Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says in Covenant and Conversation, were connected to nature. Nothing those gods “did” was beyond nature. 

Yet, in last week’s sedra, a bush burns without being incinerated and, this week, the One God hardens Pharaoh’s heart and creates the plagues which are quite miraculous. 

 God brings blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, pestilence, boils and hail: that type of onslaught may even put the last 12 months into perspective! 

This is why God hardens Pharoah’s heart: in order to bring the miracles that will prove that the God of Israel is beyond nature, unlike the other gods.

 The Children of Israel needed to see these miracles in order to have faith in God and follow Moses through the wilderness.

 We have had our fair share of problems this past year. What can we learn from the Egyptian plagues that relates to our situation today?

 Today’s natural phenomena are also the hand of God at work, even if we cannot or are not supposed to understand the reasons why. 

So many people in our community have suffered and our hearts go out
to them. 

Sadly, the history of the Jewish people is replete with challenging times. 

We pray that, like our forebears who had to have faith, that the suffering would pass, ours will soon pass too, although it will likely be a few more months of tribulation until we get there.

  •  Rebbetzen Ilana Epstein serves Cockfosters and N Southgate United Synagogue

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