TORAH READING FOR 28 TEVET 5783 Jan 20-21, 2023
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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].”
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/va-eira
By: Jonathan K. Crane
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH and REFLECTION
For Torah Study, instead of the portion from the Book of Exodus that is read on this Shabbat, we will read the Haftarah (a selection from the prophets) from Ezekiel 28:25-29:21. You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.6.2-9.35 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/ https://www.sefaria.org/Ezekiel.28.25-29.21
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
Another View – by Naomi Steinberg, p. 349
IN THE PRECEDING PARASHAH, Pharaoh challenged Moses: “Who is יהוה that I should heed him and let Israel go?” (5:2). Earlier, Moses had anticipated that the Israelites would pose a similar question: “When I come to the Israelites … and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (3:13). Divine self-revelation in parashat Va-eira answers these questions in two ways.
First, God declares: “I am יהוה; I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make Myself known to them by My name יהוה” (6:2). This personal divine name validates the promises made to the ancestors in Genesis. It also evokes God’s eternal nature (see at 3:14, 15). Moreover, introducing a new divine name signals a new beginning for Israel, as God prepares to bring them from slavery to freedom.
A second aspect of God becomes manifest in overpowering Pharaoh with the so-called plagues and even in controlling Pharaoh’s heart. The text makes it clear that the signs and wonders are part of God’s design–the means to demonstrate God’s control of history. Had there only been one or two, they might have been dismissed as a chance occurrence. However, Israel’s God is able both to inflict multiple signs and to withdraw them at a designated time.
Given the high status of Pharaoh as god in Egyptian culture, it is especially significant that Israel’s God can also control and manipulate Pharaoh himself by hardening his heart in certain instances (4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8). Although hardening Pharaoh’s heart creates tension regarding Pharaoh’s culpability, it highlights God’s supreme control. God’s intentions are quite explicit: “I have spared you for this purpose: in order to show you my power, and in order that my fame may resound throughout the world” (9:16).
Thus, like the revelation at the burning bush (Exodus 3) and the revelation on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19), the ten signs become a means of divine self-disclosure. They demonstrate God’s supreme power, proving that the Creator of the universe controls even the most powerful of human rulers.
Post-biblical Interpretations – by Anna Urowitz-Freudenstein, pp. 349-350
Amram took to wife his father’s sister Jochebed (6:20). While Moses’ mother is mentioned several times in the Torah, her proper name, Jochebed, is stated only twice, here and in Numbers 26:59. Here, she is simply described in the Hebrew as her husband Amram’s dodah, an imprecise term indicating a familial relationship. Numbers 26:59, however, makes clear that Jochebed was the daughter of Jacob’s son Levi (and that she was born to Levi in Egypt). That information has been taken into account in the translation of the present verse: Jochebed (daughter of Levi) was the aunt of her husband, Amram (grandson of Levi; Exodus 6:16, 18).
The Rabbis were uncomfortable with this marriage, since it appears to contradict the prohibition in Leviticus 18:12 against an aunt-nephew sexual/marital relationship. One response to this dilemma was simply to point out that the relationship was pre-Sinaitic and therefore was not restricted to the law as stipulated in Leviticus (BT Sanhedrin 57b–58b). Another rabbinic approach rested on further investigation into the meaning of the word dodah. According to BT Sanhedrin 58b, Jochebed was only a “half-aunt.” She and Amram’s father were said to have shared the same father (Levi), but they were born of different (unnamed) mothers. Therefore, the marriage of Amram and Jochebed was not prohibited as it was between a man and his half-aunt.
Aaron took to wife Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab (6:23). The Torah mentions Elisheba only once and defines her by her familial relationships. While it is standard for a biblical woman to be identified by her father’s name, and even by her husband’s or children’s names, the mention of all of them in the same verse is unusual. The description of Elisheba is even more unusual in that she is also identified as the sister of Nahshon. Vayikra Rabbah 20.2 elaborates on these relationships by pointing to one day in Elisheba’s life, which was also an important day in the lives of all the male relatives mentioned in this verse. According to narratives found later in the Torah, it occurred exactly one year after the Exodus took place; on that day, the Tabernacle was dedicated in the wilderness, and Elisheba experienced a number of joyous events–but then a disaster transformed her happiness into mourning. The joyous incidents were that her brother-in-law (Moses) took on a mantle of leadership that is compared to royalty; her brother (Nahshon) was made chief of the tribe of Judah; her husband (Aaron) was made high priest: her grandson (Phinehas) was anointed as a military leader; and two of her sons (Nadab and Abihu) were made assistants to the high priest. The circumstance for grief concerned these two sons. According to Leviticus 10:1–2, on that same day “they offered before יהוה alien fire … and fire came forth from יהוה and consumed them; thus they died at the instance of יהוה.”
Even though Elisheba bat Amminadab is mentioned only once in the Torah, a rabbinic opinion in BT Sotah 11b equates her with Puah, one of the two midwives who saved the Israelite baby boys contrary to Pharaoh’s decree (Exodus 1:15–22). These two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are identified by some rabbinic commentators as the mother-daughter team of Jochebed and Miriam, and by other rabbinic commentators as a mother-daughter-in-law team, namely Jochebed and Elisheba. Such conflation of several biblical personalities into one person is typical of rabbinic interpretation.
Aaron’s son Eleazar took to wife one of Putiel’s daughters (6:25). This verse is part of a longer priestly lineage recorded in Exodus 6. It is unusual, although not unique, in that it mentions a wife. The way that this woman is designated is also unusual, in that she is described as one of the daughters (plural) of Putiel, rather than simply a daughter (singular) of Putiel. The Rabbis derived from this plurality that both sides of her family may be seen as influences on her son, Phinehas (who plays a major, heroic role in events recorded in Numbers 25). They learned about her ancestors by analyzing the name of her father Putiel, since he is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, and nothing else is known about him. By examining the Hebrew root of his name they deduced that he (and therefore his daughter) is descended from Jethro (Moses’ father-in-law) on one side of his family, and from Joseph on the other side (BT Sotah, 43a).
ROSH CHODESH SHEVAT
Begins at sundown on Sunday, January 22, 2023 and ends at nightfall on Monday, January 23, 2023. 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, January 20, 2023. For the next few months we will read and discuss the Haftarah, each selection from the prophets following the weekly Torah Portion.
You can read this week’s Torah Portion at https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.6.2-9.35 and the Haftarah we will be studying at https://www.sefaria.org/Ezekiel.28.25-29.21
Zoom regularly updates its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening with wine/grape juice for Kiddush and Challah for Motzi.
Topic: Torah Study – Haftarah Va’ëra: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Time: Jan 20, 2023 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jan 20, 2023 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/Gut Shabbos
PS – About the Book of Ezekiel:
From Jewish Encyclopedia
From My Jewish Learning
Timelines from Wikipedia
PSS – Tu B’Shevat, “New Year of the Trees”, February 5-6, 2023
A separate email with information about this minor holiday and this year’s Temple Kol Hamidbar observance will be sent out in the coming days.