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D’var Torah - Va'eira

From our Hebrew School Director Liora Ramati

A woman working for the Israeli army as the interrogator of terrorists who are captured in Israel used to see them in the hospital if they got injured. In one of her visits, she saw a Palestinian boy who was treated for his illness by Jewish nurses and doctors who gave him other than medicine much love and sweet treats. 

She remembers thinking that after such display of emotions that there is hope for peace if one experiences who we really are, loving and kind people. It was years later that she went to the same hospital to visit her own sick son when she saw again that same Palestinian boy, this time he was a grown young man who was treated for his wounds after trying to kill Jews in Israel. She could not believe her eyes that the same boy that was treated and saved by Jewish people would still want to harm them, and when she confronted him about his choice of action, he said that it didn’t matter what he thought or felt, he didn’t have any other choice but do what he did. 

How can that be? And how will this ever end if this is the case? Can we get out of this vicious circle of hate? Is it possible?

This week’s Torah portion is called Va’era – I appeared – G-d’s self-revelation to Moses. This is the first Torah portion in the book of Exodus where G-d reveals his new name to his people which represent a new life and future for all Israelites as they are about to embark on their journey in the dessert.

After G-d talks to Moses and orders him to take charge of the mission to freedom, G-d needs to reassure Moses when he expresses his fear that he might not be the ideal candidate because of his speech impediment, but G-d reassures him that he will help him and so will his brother Ahron. But then…he says: “But I will harden Pharoh’s heart, that I may multiply My signs and marvels in the land of Egypt.” And then he continues to say: “and Pharoah won’t hear you, and then I will lay My hand upon Egypt and deliver My armies, and My people the Israelites from the land of Egypt with extraordinary chastisements”.

Then the text continues to mention that Moses was 80 years old, and his brother was 83 years old when they had to face Pharoah and talk to him.

I don’t know about you, but I am noticing a scenario of mission impossible!

How does G-d expect this mission to succeed if he sends an old man who can hardly speak with his even older brother to a powerful hateful king and then just to make it even harder, adds on to Pharoh’s horrible character and makes his heart even harder and by doing so supposedly takes away his free will. How is that going to work to their benefit and successful departure. But wait…did you notice what G-d said and repeated himself in case we don’t take note the first time he said it…

“And the Egyptians shall know that I am G-d (YHVH), when I stretch out My hand over Egypt and bring out the Israelites from their midst.”

We now scroll back to the beginning of the Parasha and read how G-d said: “Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am YHVH, I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.”

So now it is so clear why G-d chose Moses, who couldn’t speak, to go to a king that wasn’t able to hear with his heart of stone and couldn’t change his mind since he lost the power of free will. Now we can understand that all this was part of G-d’s plan to show his super extraordinary power through the 10 plages. And who was this miraculous show for? The Egyptians? Partly, but what is certain is that it was for us, to see and understand who is YHVH. He is our G-d, the one that will do whatever it takes to get us out of trouble and suffering when we yell and cry to him.

Only now as we start the book of Exodus, G-d reveals his name has יהוה which is a combination of 4 Hebrew letters: Yud, Hey, Vav and Hey.

It represents a new era in the History of the Jewish people as a whole. The four letters may be derived from the verb that means: “to be” “to exist”, or to come, to pass”. But if we take each letter and examine it, we can learn more about the total combination of the letters.

These letters are very powerful. In the Zohar the letter Hey represents the free will of a human being to be free, to decide on his own what is best.

The letter Vav represents love, the symbol for life, and the connection between the body and the soul. It is a connecting letter between two sides and it’s strong enough to lean on. Vav is the glue, also between G-d (up) and us (down).

The letter Yud although is the smallest one, represents spiritual power leading for a beautiful, positive, and powerful creation.

Is G-d trying to give us a new message as he reveals his new name to us? That now as we start our journey from slavery to Freedom, from Galut to our own promised land, it is not only a journey in the physical aspect but also in the spiritual and mental one, freedom to practice free choice…

How come Pharoh can hold on to the Israelites through the 10 plages even when he and his people are going to suffer? Maybe because they were taught they had nothing to lose. Without the Hebrews they themselves will need to do the hard work which they already experienced before they were able to get the Jews to do it for them. A leader cannot make a whole nation follow him through hardships when they themselves don’t see what it is for them? When you get the power to convince your people that another group is worthy of punishment and if you won’t punish them, you will suffer instead they will follow you and support you no matter what and this is a great example of not practicing free will and just following blindly.

That is exactly what happened during the Holocaust and these days with the enemies surrounding Israel who are seeking to eliminate us because they were taught from a young age, just like the Palestinian boy who kept his hate although he experienced love.

The poisonous education the kids receive in Gaza and around the world is so venomous that even when Israel saves the life of a Palestinian kid or even a terrorist, they still don’t see who we really are, they are blind and deaf to the truth.

When we are born, we start our life journey with a 100% of possibilities, movement ability – Flexibility, and as we age, we start losing it through what we are taught, practice and experience. The same goes with our imagination and our belief system. We need to work on maintaining what G-d gave us at birth, including our free will, we must work hard to keep it and not let anyone or anything take over it.

So now, as we go back to the story I started with today about the Palestinian kid who although experiencing love and affection from his supposed enemy, still continued with what was taught to him and expected of him. He didn’t practice the free will G-d gave him.

Stories like that, make us feel like we are part of another impossible mission, to achieve peace and safety in our homeland of Israel when the rulers surrounding us have strong and hard hearts full of hate which they are spreading and maintaining in the hearts of their people and beyond. And this is the right moment to remember that we are not alone, we have a super powerful G-d that when we yell and cry to him, will deliver us out of any Mizrahim (Egypt) no matter how impossible it feels it is, why? Because he already showed us that He can!


Stay strong and keep the faith and don’t stop using the gifts G-d gave us to succeed!

Am Israel Chai Ve Kayam!

Beth Moshe Congregation is filled with generations of South Florida families with roots and traditional values. 

2225 NE 121 Street, North Miami, Florida 33181

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