Shemot is a tough act to follow! Va’eira opens with yet another introduction by God to Moses, “Ani Adonai”, I am Adonai. And then God proceeds to outline both a history and an action plan to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, including the ensuing plagues.
During Pesach at our Seder tables, we read a summary of this action plan. I wondered, as I read through Va’eira, how many of us have an action plan for our lives. Do we have one-year goals? Five-year goals? What are our dreams, how have we determined to put our goals into place? Drawing on those four verbs from last week – See, Listen, Remember, and Do – how are we applying those verbs that God told us He would lead with?
When we are burdened, overwhelmed with “shortness of breath and hard work” to whom do we turn? God is on the other side of our soul doorway – waiting for an introduction. Will we keep the door closed or open it?
Va’eira also introduces what for many is a moral complexity. God tells Moses, “I shall harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I shall multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.” In this statement we hear a long view – and a perplexing view – why would God turn Pharaoh’s heart into resistance if the overall goal is to have him approve the leave-taking of the Israelites? And then God, in excellent rhetorical fashion answers His own question – so that Egypt will know that I am God.
Perhaps, the Israelites might also be less inclined to leave their known lives for the unknown and mysterious future, even as they lived under such a heavy burden of oppression. We have had a Pharaoh is too many generations. 1948 was part of the plan for many Jews in the early 20th century – to leave the Pale, their brutal oppression, the endless cycles of pogroms, to lean how to become agricultural workers, to learn Hebrew- there were so many plans for Jewish survival – and overall a plan to return to our homeland. Again. Kvetching and all.
What is our plan today? How do we open that door? Let’s talk.