Vaera – 2010
The Book of Berieshit closes with the climax of the Yosef saga, when he reveals himself to his family’s astonishment. It was really a case of not believing one’s eyes. But did Yosef really knock their socks off? How is it that not even one of the brothers did not sit up and take notice of the signs he gave them, in his quizlike ambience. His curiosity about the family and other personal undertones especially revealed a profound personal interest in them.
Chazal tell us that Yitzchak Avinu was blind and could not differentiate between his two sons. In the story of Yosef, a similar theme of sight impairment is obvious to us as they squint in the light of Yosef but just don’t get it… On the other hand, concerning Ya’akov Avinu, who the Divine Presence followed into exile , after 20 years he saw the Shechinah leaving Lavan’s house and “took the first boat” out of there. He knew the designated time had run out and in that instance didn’t waste a single second but simply packed up his family and ran like the wind without even saying goodbye! (do you think they made matzot?) This is recorded in the same passuk of Yosef’s birth- (Vayetzeh 30:25)- “And it came to pass when Rachel had born Yosef that Ya’akov said to Lavan, ” Send me away, that I may go to my own place and my own country…”.
Now as we enter the book of Shemot, listening to the background music of the beating of the drum and seeing the signs Hashem performed through Moshe Rabbeinu, Parshat Vaera has us wondering at the obvious symbols the plagues represent and how eventually Am Yisrael are signed sealed and delivered. The prognosis may have seemed, as Moshe Rabbeinu came to free them, their situations only worsened- their agony doubling in size. But there were open miracles happening at the same time, the evidence of Hashem’s Omnipotence and that the time in Egypt was running out. Didn’t they hear the alarm sounding as we know they raised a bitter cry! The bad omen that came down into Egypt’s consciousness however, did not prevent 4/5 of the Jewish people from remaining there and perishing along with the evil Egyptians.
Although the final Redemption doesn’t have a date, we can marvel at the signs of the times if we choose to see. Rabbi Pinchas Winston brings down the Midrash from Tanchumah that “all that happened concerning Yosef will happen to Tzion – (they have the same gematria- 345)- “So powerful was Yosef’s revelation and his brothers reaction that the rabbis use it as a metaphor of what it will be like on the final day of Judgement. All G-d will have to say is “I am G-d!” How many of us will fall back in shock when realizing how many times through the course of their lives G-d tried to help them to do the right thing, but they just didn’t pay attention.”
In this pasha Hashem says- “so you will KNOW that I am G-d”. Hashem has a profound personal interest in you. You only have to read His lips and then He is revealed. Now, more than any other time in history as we return to our Land and slowly slowly dawn becomes morning and the light is revealed, it is for us to see and KNOW what Hashem wants for us. For those that don’t take the signs, let this parsha be a reminder to them that yes, history DOES repeat itself. There may not even be time to bake matzot!
Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith