Daniel D. Stuhlman

Va’era — Words and Actions

Parashat Va’eira   January 21, 2023

This parasha is the beginning of the exodus process.  God sends Moshe and Aaron to Pharoah to plead for freedom.  When Pharoah refuses to believe Moshe, Moshe throws his staff on the floor, and it becomes a snake that eats the snake-staffs of the Egyptian magicians.  When Pharoah refuses to believe Moshe is on a mission from God, the first plagues are thrown on the Egyptians.  Pharaoh doesn’t accept the words of Moshe and so God sends the plagues to demonstrate with action his power.

The organization lesson is that while words may be powerful, physical actions are needed to reinforce the message.  This may be as minor as reading the schedule out loud for services even though everyone in the congregation can see the paper with the schedule or as major as show of force to show you mean what you say.


Discussion questions

  1. When teaching, how does this relate to presenting the material in multiple ways to transmit the message?


My brother commented that it is interesting that all the people, even those with no power, had to suffer the plagues because of the actions of the elite.  He is right.  Throughout history innocent people have suffered because of the mistakes or deliberate actions of others.  Is it fair that someone should be injured because of driver who made a mistake? Is it fair when a political leader starts a war that causes innocents to be killed and maimed? Is it fair for someone to lose their job because the company management made incorrect decisions or didn’t plan properly?  Of course, it is not fair to take what is not yours.  Unfortunately, not everyone is as fair as my brother would dream they should.

At the Passover Seder we spill a few drops of wine when reciting  the ten plagues because we can not have total joy when other people are suffering. It is our task in life to make the world a better place because of our actions and not cause suffering.

About the Author
Lives in Chicago, Illinois USA. Academic and synagogue librarian for more than 40 years. Graduate of Columbia University in the City of New York, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Jewish University of America. MHL and DHL in Tanah. Gabbai Sheni of Kehilath Jacob Beth Shmuel in Chicago for more than 40 years.
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