The Weekly D'rash and the Scriptures that we will be reading this Shabbat for Va'era from Rabbi Howard Silverman:
TORAH ~ Exodus 6:2-9:35
HAFTARAH ~ Ezekiel 28:25-29:21 BRIT CHADASHA ~ Ephesians 1:13-23
Psalm 67 begins with these words: "God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us—Selah. That Your way may be known on the earth, Your salvation among all nations". In this week's Torah portion we read the reason for the plagues and the deliverance of Israel was so that the world would know the God of Israel. Consider these verses in our portion: "Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians". (Exo 6:7) "The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst". (Exo 7:5) "Thus says the LORD, 'By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood'". (Exo 7:17) "Then he said, 'Tomorrow'. So he said, 'May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God'". (Exo 8:10) "But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land". (Exo 8:22) "Moses said to him, 'As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the LORD; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the LORD’S'". (Exo 9:29) These verses tell us that it was the desire of God that the Israelites and Egyptians including Pharaoh and Moses would know the God of Israel. We learned last week that Moses has his first encounter with God at the burning bush, and it is here that he begins to learn about God. It is as if God was starting all over again after the death of Joseph. Hundreds of years have gone by without any interaction (that we are aware of) between God and Israel until the end of Exodus chapter 2. There we read that God heard the cry of the people. It seems from the verses above that the deliverance of the people was not just about them. The responsibility of the people was to remember these events, pass them down to future generations, and share them with the world so that the world may know the God of Israel. This is an important truth for all of us. This is the point of many of the Psalms. I am thinking of Psalms 103–106. These Psalms are a call to remember and proclaim the great things that God has done. Psalm 103 begins with a call to remember the great things that God has done for the Psalmist personally in his life. Then, it expands to remembering what He has done for Israel throughout history. The point is that when God does a great work in the lives of individuals and communities, the recipients of that work have a responsibility to make it known. We are all part of something much greater than ourselves. The work of God in our individual lives is not an end unto itself. It is for the ultimate purpose of testimony so that the world may know the God of Israel and more specifically the Messiah of Israel. This was the purpose of the plagues, and in the New Covenant Scriptures this is the purpose of the healings and all of the miracles of Yeshua and the Apostles. Perhaps we would see more miracles and demonstrations of the power of God in this world if we had more of a heart for testimony and making the works of God known. Remember back in Acts 1 that the purpose of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit was to give power in our testimony. I suggest that we would see more miracles of God if we had more of a sense of calling to be a light to the nations and not a light to ourselves! The fact is that God does miracles all the time. We need to look! We are living in some dark times. Rather than lamenting the state of the world, may we see it as a great opportunity for testimony. May we demonstrate an alternative way of thinking and living because of the great work of deliverance that God has done in our lives, both individually and communally. May we focus on our calling to be a light to the world through both word and deed. I encourage us all to meditate this week on the ways in our own lives that God has blessed us. As you write them down, I know that it will be a sense of joy and satisfaction to you. It will lift your spirit to remember what God has done in your life. It is easy for us to feel sorry for ourselves and have a negative attitude. But that is not the way of the Lord! It will become evident in your everyday interactions with people that there is something different about you. Remember the words of Psalm 103:1–2, "Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits". TORAH READING: EXODUS 6:2 – 9:35 6:2 G-d spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the L-rd; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as G-d Almighty, but by My name, L-rd, I did not make Myself known to them. 4 "I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5 "Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 "Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the L-rd, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 'Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your G-d; and you shall know that I am the L-rd your G-d, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 'I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the L-rd.'" 9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage. 10 Now the L-rd spoke to Moses, saying, 11 "Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land." 12 But Moses spoke before the L-rd, saying, "Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?" 13 Then the L-rd spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt. 14 These are the heads of their fathers' households. The sons of Reuben, Israel's firstborn: Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi; these are the families of Reuben. 15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon. 16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon and Kohath and Merari; and the length of Levi's life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel; and the length of Kohath's life was one hundred and thirty-three years. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations. 20 Amram married his father's sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram's life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 21 The sons of Izhar: Korah and Nepheg and Zichri. 22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael and Elzaphan and Sithri. 23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 24 The sons of Korah: Assir and Elkanah and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites. 25 Aaron's son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers' households of the Levites according to their families. 26 It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the L-rd said, "Bring out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts." 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the sons of Israel from Egypt; it was the same Moses and Aaron. 28 Now it came about on the day when the L-rd spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 that the L-rd spoke to Moses, saying, "I am the L-rd; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you." 30 But Moses said before the L-rd, "Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?" 7:1 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "See, I make you as G-d to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 "You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. 3 "But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 "When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 "The Egyptians shall know that I am the L-rd, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst." 6 So Moses and Aaron did it; as the L-rd commanded them, thus they did. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh. 8 Now the L-rd spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 9 "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Work a miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'" 10 So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the L-rd had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. 12 For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the L-rd had said. 14 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go. 15 "Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent. 16 "You shall say to him, 'The L-rd, the G-d of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened until now." 17 'Thus says the L-rd, "By this you shall know that I am the L-rd: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood. 18 "The fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul, and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile."'" 19 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.'" 20 So Moses and Aaron did even as the L-rd had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood. 21 The fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt. 22 But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the L-rd had said. 23 Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this. 24 So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile. 25 Seven days passed after the L-rd had struck the Nile. 8:1 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the L-rd, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 "But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. 3 "The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. 4 "So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants."'" 5 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.'" 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Entreat the L-rd that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the L-rd." 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, "The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?" 10 Then he said, "Tomorrow." So he said, "May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the L-rd our G-d. 11 "The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile." 12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the L-rd concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. 13 The L-rd did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14 So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the L-rd had said. 16 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Say to Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.'" 17 They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of G-d." But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the L-rd had said. 20 Now the L-rd said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, 'Thus says the L-rd, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 "For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of insects on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of insects, and also the ground on which they dwell. 22 "But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of insects will be there, in order that you may know that I, the L-rd, am in the midst of the land. 23 "I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur."'" 24 Then the L-rd did so. And there came great swarms of insects into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of insects in all the land of Egypt. 25 Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Go, sacrifice to your G-d within the land." 26 But Moses said, "It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the L-rd our G-d what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? 27 "We must go a three days' journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the L-rd our G-d as He commands us." 28 Pharaoh said, "I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the L-rd your G-d in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me." 29 Then Moses said, "Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the L-rd that the swarms of insects may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the L-rd." 30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the L-rd. 31 The L-rd did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of insects from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. 9:1 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, 'Thus says the L-rd, the G-d of the Hebrews, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 "For if you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them, 3 behold, the hand of the L-rd will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock which are in the field, on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the herds, and on the flocks. 4 "But the L-rd will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing will die of all that belongs to the sons of Israel."'" 5 The L-rd set a definite time, saying, "Tomorrow the L-rd will do this thing in the land." 6 So the L-rd did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died. 7 Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go. 8 Then the L-rd said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln, and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 "It will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and will become boils breaking out with sores on man and beast through all the land of Egypt." 10 So they took soot from a kiln, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses threw it toward the sky, and it became boils breaking out with sores on man and beast. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils were on the magicians as well as on all the Egyptians. 12 And the L-rd hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the L-rd had spoken to Moses. 13 Then the L-rd said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, 'Thus says the L-rd, the G-d of the Hebrews, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 14 "For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. 15 "For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. 16 "But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17 "Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go. 18 "Behold, about this time tomorrow, I will send a very heavy hail, such as has not been seen in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 "Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die."'" 20 The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the L-rd made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; 21 but he who paid no regard to the word of the L-rd left his servants and his livestock in the field. 22 Now the L-rd said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt." 23 Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the L-rd sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the L-rd rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast; the hail also struck every plant of the field and shattered every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the sons of Israel were, there was no hail. 27 Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "I have sinned this time; the L-rd is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones. 28 "Make supplication to the L-rd, for there has been enough of G-d's thunder and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer." 29 Moses said to him, "As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the L-rd; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the L-rd's. 30 "But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the L-rd G-d." 31 (Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they ripen late.) 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread out his hands to the L-rd; and the thunder and the hail ceased, and rain no longer poured on the earth. 34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not let the sons of Israel go, just as the L-rd had spoken through Moses. HAFTARAH READING: EZEKIEL 28:25 – 29:21 25 'Thus says the L-rd G-d, "When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will manifest My holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. 26 "They will live in it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards and live securely when I execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them. Then they will know that I am the L-rd their G-d."'" 29:1 In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth of the month, the word of the L-rd came to me saying, 2 "Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. 3 "Speak and say, 'Thus says the L-rd G-d, "Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, That has said, 'My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.' 4 "I will put hooks in your jaws And make the fish of your rivers cling to your scales. And I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers, And all the fish of your rivers will cling to your scales. 5 "I will abandon you to the wilderness, you and all the fish of your rivers; You will fall on the open field; you will not be brought together or gathered. I have given you for food to the beasts of the earth and to the birds of the sky. 6 "Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the L-rd, Because they have been only a staff made of reed to the house of Israel. 7 "When they took hold of you with the hand, You broke and tore all their hands; And when they leaned on you, You broke and made all their loins quake." 8 'Therefore thus says the L-rd G-d, "Behold, I will bring upon you a sword and I will cut off from you man and beast. 9 "The land of Egypt will become a desolation and waste. Then they will know that I am the L-rd. Because you said, 'The Nile is mine, and I have made it,' 10 therefore, behold, I am against you and against your rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene and even to the border of Ethiopia. 11 "A man's foot will not pass through it, and the foot of a beast will not pass through it, and it will not be inhabited for forty years. 12 "So I will make the land of Egypt a desolation in the midst of desolated lands. And her cities, in the midst of cities that are laid waste, will be desolate forty years; and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations and disperse them among the lands." 13 'For thus says the L-rd G-d, "At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered. 14 "I will turn the fortunes of Egypt and make them return to the land of Pathros, to the land of their origin, and there they will be a lowly kingdom. 15 "It will be the lowest of the kingdoms, and it will never again lift itself up above the nations. And I will make them so small that they will not rule over the nations. 16 "And it will never again be the confidence of the house of Israel, bringing to mind the iniquity of their having turned to Egypt. Then they will know that I am the L-rd G-d."'" 17 Now in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the word of the L-rd came to me saying, 18 "Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre; every head was made bald and every shoulder was rubbed bare. But he and his army had no wages from Tyre for the labor that he had performed against it." 19 Therefore thus says the L-rd G-d, "Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. And he will carry off her wealth and capture her spoil and seize her plunder; and it will be wages for his army. 20 "I have given him the land of Egypt for his labor which he performed, because they acted for Me," declares the L-rd G-d. 21 "On that day I will make a horn sprout for the house of Israel, and I will open your mouth in their midst. Then they will know that I am the L-rd." B’RIT CHADASHAH READING: EPHESIANS 1:13-23 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of G-d's own possession, to the praise of His glory. 15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the L-rd Yeshua which exists among you and your love for all the holy ones, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the G-d of our L-rd Yeshua Messiah, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the holy ones, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Messiah, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the community, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.