• Daily Aliya for Vaeira, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe prayed to G‑d, and the frogs all died. Egypt reeked from the odor of rotting frogs, and Pharaoh reneged on his promise. Plague Three: Aaron smote the earth with his staff, and swarms of lice attacked Egypt, covering man and beast. Even Pharaoh’s magicians were amazed by this, and informed Pharaoh that this is the “finger of G‑d.” Plague Four: G‑d dispatched Moshe to warn Pharaoh that his land will be infested by a mixture of noxious animals. Only the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, would be spared.

    While the Jews did not suffer from the plagues that were thrust on the Egyptians, the first time that became abundantly clear was with the fourth plague, Arov, because an entire Jewish city was excluded. It helped solidify the message Moshe was delivering with each plague: That the true G-d is controlling everything, not Paroh or any of his gods. It seems that this was conveyed in progression: Paroh’s magicians were able to turn water to blood, but not to the extent that G-d did. Same with frogs. With lice, however, his magicians finally broke the news to Paroh, that this is the work of G-d (8:15). The fourth plague now clarifies that the true G-d favors the Jews. It’s fascinating that Paroh was presented with these revelations in the order which he needed to process them, rather than forcing his hand right away. This Aliya (and exodus in general) is all about respecting the human process (even evil humans).

  • Daily Aliya for Vaeira, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh. As per G‑d’s instructions, Aaron cast his staff on the ground, and it turned into a serpent. When Pharaoh’s magicians did the same with their staffs, Aaron’s staff swallowed theirs. Pharaoh remained unimpressed—and so the plagues commenced. Plague One: Aaron smote the Nile with his staff. The river and all the waters in Egypt turned into blood, and all the fish perished. Plague Two: Aaron stretched his staff upon the Nile and droves of frogs emerged. They covered the land, entered all the houses, even the ovens and kneading bowls. Pharaoh summoned Moshe and Aaron and begged them to pray to G‑d to remove the plague, after which he would release the Israelites.

    The Baal HaTurim points out that the passuk says: “G-d says to Moshe that when Paroh will ask for a sign, you (Moshe) shall tell to Aharon to take your staff and throw it (on the ground) in front of Paroh, it shall become a snake.” He explains that the staff was thrown down and then Moshe was to command it to become a snake. This was meant to show Paroh (and us) the power of speech that G-d has given to Moshe, and by extension to us, in that the staff did not change upon being thrown down (action), but by a spoken command (speech). Although we can’t create snakes with our speech, we can create venom and pain with it.

  • Daily Aliya for Vaeira, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d tells Moshe to go speak to Pharaoh, and Aaron should serve as his spokesman. G‑d informed him that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart and he will refuse to release the Israelites. At that point G‑d will “multiply His wonders” in Egypt, until the Egyptians will recognize that G‑d is the L-rd.

    How is it that Moshe  is able to speak to the People of Israel throughout his “career” as leader, in light of the fact that he complained of being “speech impaired”? Could it be that the Jews wanted to hear what Moshe had to say, and therefore concentrated harder on the understanding his words, while Paroh clearly didn’t want to be punished nor to let the Israelites go, and therefore would use the excuse that he couldn’t understand what Moshe was saying. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we actually want to!

  • Daily Aliya for Vaeira, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The Torah begins to enumerate the names of the tribes and family groups. It is obvious that the intention here is not to review the whole of the (almost) nation, but rather to focus on Moshe and Aharon. Note that the Torah starts the list with Reuven and Shimon, and when it gets to Levi, there is much more detail. In this brief Aliya, the Torah is identifying many of the “main characters” of the rest of the Torah. The Torah is also giving us the ability to continue to draw the timeline of Jewish history, by giving us the ages at death of Levi (we already know the ages of the three previous generation, those of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov), his son Kehat, his son Amram. That brings us to Moshe and Aharon. We are also introduced to Korach and his sons and Aharon and his family.

    Although the purpose of this partial genealogy was to identify Aharon and Moshe, the Torah began with Reuven and Shimon before it gets to Levi. A reason offered for this in one of the sources is that since Yaakov Avinu spoke critically of these three sons, the Torah here lists only them, to teach us that they were important tribes despite their progenitors’ “mistakes”.

  • Daily Aliya for Vaeira, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s Parsha, Vaeira, Pharaoh refuses to allow the Israelites to leave Egypt, even after Aaron exhibits miraculous powers, transforming his staff into a serpent. The first seven plagues strike Egypt: Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Pestilence, Boils, and Fiery Hail.

    Aliya Summary: This week’s portion opens with G‑d’s response to Moshe (continuation from the end of last week’s Parsha). G‑d told Moshe that He revealed Himself to the Patriarchs and established with them a covenant to give them the land of Canaan. And now the time has arrived to fulfill His promises. G‑d told Moshe to tell the Israelites that He has heard their cries, and He will now deliver them from Egypt and bring them to the Promised Land. Moshe relayed the message, but their unbearable workload prevented them from accepting his words. G‑d then told Moshe to instruct Pharaoh to send the Israelites from his land. Moshe protested: “If the children of Israel did not listen to me, how then will Pharaoh listen to me? I have a speech impediment?” (G‑d’s answer is detailed in the Third Aliya.)

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