Torah Weekly

For the week ending 5 January 2008 / 27 Tevet 5768

Parshat Vaera

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is praying for my sister Jill Sinclair. Chaya Esther bas Rochma has been in a coma since a tragic accident eighteen months ago. Please continue to pray for my sister and in the merit of all our tefilot, may G-d return Chaya Esther bas Rochma to full health and to our family very soon!

Overview

G-d tells Moshe to inform the Jewish People that He is going to take them out of Egypt. However, the Jewish People do not listen. G-d commands Moshe to go to Pharaoh and ask him to free the Jewish People. Although Aharon shows Pharaoh a sign by turning a staff into a snake, Pharaoh's magicians copy the sign, emboldening Pharaoh to refuse the request. G-d punishes the Egyptians and sends plagues of blood and frogs, but the magicians copy these miracles on a smaller scale, again encouraging Pharaoh to be obstinate. After the plague of lice, Pharaoh's magicians concede that only G-d could be performing these miracles. Only the Egyptians, and not the Jews in Goshen, suffer during the plagues. The onslaught continues with wild animals, pestilence, boils and fiery hail. However, despite Moshe's offers to end the plagues if Pharaoh will let the Jewish People leave, Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and refuses.

Insights

A Legend In My Own Lunchtime

“…I shall strike your entire boundary with frogs…” (7:27)

Nursing his Lancaster down below the anti-aircraft fire, Johnny heard the wireless suddenly crackle into life, “Johnny! Johnny! What in the deuce are you doing in there? Get out now! There’s more flack over those dams than cucumber sandwiches at a Buck House tea party!”

Johnny hit the talk button on his joystick, “What and miss all the fun? Sorry squaddy, this is one party you can’t keep me from gate-crashing!”

With a wry smile playing across his face, Johnny flicked off the wireless and concentrated on the huge black form of the dam looming up in front of the cockpit. “Steady, steady, steadddddy… and… Bombs away!” Tenderly, Johnny squeezed the bomb release button, and immediately pulled the Lancaster into a steep climb over the right-hand ack-ack tower. As he passed over the tower, a few hundred rounds of flack tore into the soft metal underbelly of the Lancaster; the plane exploded immediately.

“…I shall strike your entire boundary with frogs…” (7:27)

The Midrash tells us that some of those frogs volunteered to throw themselves into the hottest ovens to fulfill G-d’s miracle that every part of the land of Egypt should swarm with frogs. They perished to sanctify the Name of G-d.

In a striking parallel of animal obedience to the Divine Word, when the Jews left Egypt, the Torah tells us, “But against all the Children of Yisrael, no dog shall whet its tongue, neither against man nor beast” (11:7). As reward for this forbearance, to this very day, we throw non-kosher meat to the dogs.

Nowhere, however, does the Torah tell us that the frogs received a reward. Why doesn’t the Torah specify the reward that the frogs received for their self-sacrifice?

The answer is that the grand gesture of self-sacrifice is much easier than resisting even a small desire.

In other words, it’s easier to be a frog and go out in a blaze of glory than to be a dog and keep your mouth shut.

  • Sources: Heard from Rabbi Yona Rom in the name of Rabbi Dovid from Tolner

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