Va’eira 5781

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The brighter side of things[1]

וידבר משה כן אל בני ישראל ולא שמעו אל משה מקוצר רוח ומעבודה קשה
And Moshe told the Jewish people so, but they didn’t listen to him due to a lack of spirit and the difficult labor[2]

Moshe saw some major setbacks at the beginning of his mission to redeem the Jewish people. First, his first encounter with Pharaoh, demanding the immediate release of the Jews, backfired. Rather than complying, Pharaoh magnified the suffering of the Jews by intensifying his immoral demands. They were expected to produce the same number of bricks as before, but this time being required to gather their own materials. This was the exact opposite of redemption. Subsequently, Hashem reassured Moshe that the Jews will indeed be redeemed. There will be a miraculous salvation, and the Egyptians will be punished appropriately for their heinous crimes. When Moshe told this great news to the people, they unfortunately didn’t. They were too overwhelmed from their labor, and had essentially given up hope of redemption.

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Shemos 5781

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What it takes to be a leader[1]

ויאמר אנכי אלקי אביך אלקי אברהם אלקי יצחק ואלקי יעקב ויסתר משה פניו כי ירא מהביט אל-האלקים
[Hashem] said: “I am the G-d of your forefathers, the G-d of Avraham, the G-d of Yitzchak, and the G-d of Yaakov.” Moshe then hid his face, as he feared to stare at the Divine[2]

ויען משה ויאמר והן לא יאמינו-לי ולא ישמעו בקלי כי יאמרו לא-נראה אליך יקוק: והיה אם-לא יאמינו לך ולא ישמעו לקל האת הראשון והאמינו לקל האת האחרון: והיה אם-לא יאמינו גם לשני האתות האלה ולא ישמעו לקלך ולקחת ממימי היאר ושפכת היבשה והיו המים אשר תקח מן-היאר והיו לדם ביבשת
Moshe answered and said: “But they won’t believe me! They won’t listen to me and they’ll say that Hashem didn’t appear to you”…“If it will be[3] that they don’t believe in you and don’t believe the first sign, they will believe the second sign. And if it will be that they don’t believe these two signs, and won’t listen to you, take from the water of the Nile and pour it on the ground. It will be that the water that you took from the Nile will turn to blood on the dry land[4]

Hashem’s first dialogue at the burning bush with Moshe is very interesting. Moshe didn’t realize that this conversation would pave the way for him becoming the leader and savior of the Jewish people. There’s a lot of back and forth, as Moshe was initially not willing to take the position. He had all sorts of excuses. We can learn a lot from this episode, but the following is just a couple of lessons that we can glean. The first lesson comes from Moshe’s initial demeanor during this discussion, and the second comes from Hashem’s response to Moshe’s concern that the Jews won’t believe him.

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