BLESSING of the YEARS
Bless this our year and its abundant harvest for good.
Grant blessing throughout the earth and satisfy us with Your goodness.
Blessed are You, Eternal One, who blesses the years.
“Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” p.86
From Reform Judaism https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-eira
Va’ëra (וָאֵרָא – “I (God) appeared [to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]”) – Ex. 6:2-9:35
God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Eternal.” – Exodus 6:2
- Despite God’s message that they will be redeemed from slavery, the Israelites’ spirits remain crushed. God instructs Moses and Aaron to deliver the Israelites from the land of Egypt. (6:2-13)
- The genealogy of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and their descendants is recorded. (6:14-25)
- Moses and Aaron perform a miracle with a snake and relate to Pharaoh God’s message to let the Israelites leave Egypt. (7:8-13)
- The first seven plagues occur. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh rescinds each offer to let the Israelites go. (7:14-9:35)
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Va%27eira#Haftarah
Connection to the Parashah
Both the parashah and the haftarah describe God’s instructions to a prophet to confront the Pharaoh of Egypt and bring on Israel’s redemption. Both the parashah and the haftarah address God’s judgments (shefatim) against Pharaoh and Egypt. A monster (tannin) plays a role in both the parashah and the haftarah: In the parashah, God turns Moses’ rod into a monster; the haftarah describes Pharaoh as a monster. In both the parashah and the haftarah, God attacks the river and kills fish. In both the parashah and the haftarah, God’s actions would cause the Egyptians to know (ve-yade’u) God. And in both the parashah and the haftarah, God proclaims, “I am the [Eternal One].”
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Va%27eira
Va’eira (וָאֵרָא — Hebrew for “and I appeared”) – Ex. 6:2-9:35
The [complete] parashah tells of the first seven Plagues of Egypt. It begins with God telling Moses, “I am the Eternal. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai but, I did not make Myself known to them by My name יהוה (YHVH).”
In Modern Interpretation
The late Nahum Mattathias Sarna, a modern biblical scholar best known for the study of Genesis and Exodus, noted that Aaron, not Moses, turned his rod into a snake in Exodus 7:10. Sarna explained that Moses thus tacitly asserted his equal status with Pharaoh. Moses came to negotiate with Pharaoh as the representative of the people of Israel. Just as Pharaoh had his magicians, Moses had his assistant, Aaron. Sarna noted that in the narratives of the Ten Plagues, Aaron acted only as long as the Egyptian magicians appeared present. After their ingenuity failed them and they faded from the story, Moses acted personally to bring about the remaining plagues.
From Women of Reform Judaism.org
PARASHAT VA-EIRA STUDY GUIDE – INTRODUCTION BY RABBI KIM GERINGER
Parashat Va-eira contains some of the most dramatic and best-known stories in the Bible. Faced with an unyielding and stubborn Pharaoh, God unleashes seven “signs,” “marvels,” and “wonders” to convince the Egyptian ruler that resistance to God ultimately will be useless. Commonly known as “plagues,” these scourges wreak havoc on the land and its people and demonstrate to Egyptians and Israelites alike God’s ability to bend the laws of nature to the divine will and purpose. (The final and decisive three “plagues”—locusts, darkness, death of the first-born—come in the next parashah, Bo.) Yet behind the fantastic drama lies a story of human beings and their recognizable and very human emotions: Moses, the insecure, reluctant prophet (exodus 6:12), and Pharaoh, alternately defiant (exodus 7:13) and chastened and demoralized (exodus 9:27). An overarching theme is the reassurance of God’s power and God’s eternal protection of the people Israel.
From the D’var Torah By: Rabbi Hilly Haber
In Parshat Va-eira, we watch as God’s message of freedom unfolds across Egypt and is ignored, scorned by Israelites and Egyptians alike. We watch as moral suasion, peaceful resistance, and God’s word fail to bring about liberation and an end to oppression. In the wake of this failure, God visits 10 plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the first 7 of which appear in this week’s portion. What are we to make of Divine violence in the context of Egypt? How do we understand and evaluate the function of God’s actions in light of historical and ongoing movements for freedom and liberation?
From “The Torah / A Women’s Commentary” edited by Dr. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, Ph.D.
וארא Va-eira – Exodus 6:2-9:35
Marvelous Signs and Destructive Wonders by Rachel Havrelock, p.331
Parashat Va-eira (“I appeared”) recounts how God, with the help of Moses and Aaron, endeavors to persuade the pharaoh to release his Hebrew slaves. Here we encounter a stubborn, resistant king not willing to concede an inch of ground to the beleaguered Israelites. This parashah begins the tale–continued in the two subsequent Torah portions–of how a reluctant, underdog prophet triumphs over a recalcitrant tyrant. The suspense-filled drama of the liberation from servitude is central to the Bible and to Judaism. This story is recalled with gratitude through the Passover seder, daily prayers, and identification with the oppressed. The exodus from Egypt has inspired resistance movements throughout the ages, as the downtrodden of many lands and faiths have invoked the potent phrase of self-determination: “Let my people go!”
The divine acts recounted in this parashah are commonly called “plagues,” yet this term is used only rarely in the exodus narrative (see at 9:14). Instead, words like “signs” (otot), “marvels” (moftim), and “wonders” (nifle’ot) describe the events that devastate the land and attack the routine affairs of ordinary Egyptians. We read about the first seven signs in this parashah: bloody water, frogs, lice, swarms of insects, pestilence, boils, and hail. These episodes are intended to engender a specific kind of knowledge, teaching the Israelites that “I, יהוה, am your God” (6:7) and the Egyptian king, “that there is none like יהוה” (8:6) and that “I יהוה am in the midst of the land” (8:18; see also 7:17; 9:14, 29).
Women figure far less prominently in this Torah portion than in the previous parashah, yet the genealogy in 6:14-24 preserves the memory of four women: Moses’ mother, Jochebed; Simeon’s unnamed Canaanite wife; and two priestly wives, Elisheba and Putiel’s daughter. The political clash that unfolds in parashat Va-eira is more destructive than the non-confrontational, non-violent resistance of the women in parashat Sh’mot. The events in this portion remind us that the movement of a people from slavery to liberation has wide-reaching consequences.
ROSH CHODESH SHEVAT
Begins at sundown on Sunday, January 2, 2022 and ends at nightfall on Monday, January 3, 2022. Shevat is the eleventh month of the Hebrew calendar and the fifth month of the civil calendar. It has 30 days.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
ROSH CHODESH – FOR THE NEW MONTH p.519
Our God and God of our ancestors, may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good.
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of abuse, brutality, conflicts, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds especially directed at individuals and specific communities including us, and war; for all those at home alone or lonely; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, conflict, disease, natural disasters, pandemics, tragedies, violence of all kinds, and war.
This coming week, 28 Tevet through 5 Shevat, we lovingly remember:
Those victims of the Sho’ah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“ZICHRONAM LIV’RACHAH” – MAY THEIR MEMORIES BE FOR BLESSING.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, December 31, 2021. At the end, after Motzi, we will drink a toast to the secular New Year. Please join us with a glass of your choice of something bubbly!
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this Friday evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Va’ëra (triennial part) Ex 8:16-9:35
Time: Dec 31, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Dec 31, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat! Happy New Year 2022!