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Parshat Vaera

PARSHA ON PARADE IS DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY
OF MY DEAR FATHER AND REBBI:
HARAV HAGAON RAV YESHAYA SHIMANOWITZ Z'TZL ,
ROSH YESHIVA
IN
YESHIVAS RABAINU YAAKOV YOSEF
(RABBI JACOB JOSEPH YESHIVA - RJJ)
IN NYC FOR OVER 23 YEARS.
NIFTAR ON 20 ADAR 5758 - MARCH 18, 1998.
MAY HE BE A MAYLITZ YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL.

AND

MY DEAR MOTHER
REBITZEN BRACHA ETEL SHIMANOWITZ A'H
WHO DEVOTED HER ENTIRE LIFE TO MY FATHER AND HIS TORAH,
NIFTERA ON 21 TEVET 5770 - WED EVE. JANUARY 6, 2010.
MAY SHE BE A MAYLITZA YOSHER FOR ALL OF KLAL YISROEL


Menachim Z. Shimanowitz

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PARSHA
FACTS

NO MITZVOT IN THIS PARSHA

NUMBER OF PESUKIM (SENTENCES): 121

NUMBER OF WORDS: 1748

NUMBER OF LETTERS: 6701

HAFTORA: (Additional portion, from Prophets, which is read after the Parsha) SEE BELOW

Shabbat Mevarchim Chodesh Shvat.
Rosh Chodesh is Today, Shabbat, Jan. 28, 2017.

Because today is Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Shvat
- We take out two Sifrei Torah; seven Aliyahs are read from the first Sefer Torah from Parshat Vaera: Half-Kaddish, followed by the lifting and closing of that Sefer Torah; Maftir reads in the second Torah from Parshat Pinchas – (Numbers 28:9-15) the two paragraphs "וביום השבת" and "ובראשי חדשיכם."
The Maftir reads the special Haftora for Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh "השמים כסאי" (Isaiah 66:1-24, repeating verse 23 at the end).


פרשת וארא
THE
PARSHA
In our last episode Moshe the shepherd went chasing a lamb and came back a leader. At Hashem's command, he and Aharon headed back to Mitzrayim (Egypt) with a message. "Let my people go," they told Pharoh, but Pharoh refused to listen. On the contrary, Pharoh instituted a new policy: Bricks without straw. Now the Jews would have to provide their own straw and keep the brick quota steady all the same. The Bnei Yisroel got mad at Moshe, Moshe got frustrated and Hashem declared, "Pharoh ain't seen nothin' yet!"
As our Parsha opens, the Bnei Yisroel are working twice as hard, gathering straw and still making the same amount of bricks each day. Moshe is in a real spot. Why did Hashem send him to Pharoh? It just made things worse for the Bnei Yisroel! Hashem reminds Moshe who the G-d is around here! This is all apparently part of Hashem's plan. You see, Hashem wants to hear Bnei Yisroel's tefilot (prayers). He wants Bnei Yisroel to cry out for redemption. Now, in the blackest days of exile, the time is right for the Exodus.
TIME
FOR A
SIGN
Moshe heads back to the mud pits on Hashem's orders and announces "You will soon be free." But these slaves have had enough of Moshe's declarations. Next Hashem sends Moshe back to the palace to repeat his message to Pharoh. Now Moshe's no dummy. He knows Pharoh's not going to take his word. He'll need a calling card miracle. That's simple enough. Hashem gave Moshe a bag of tricks in our last Parsha. He can use the snake trick.

When Moshe and Aharon come before Pharoh, they make their case for the Jews to leave Mitzrayim for a three-day sacrifice-fest in the wilderness. Pharoh laughs in their faces and asks them for a sign to prove their G-d's power.

Aharon throws his staff to the ground and it becomes a snake. Whoa! Big trick! "Is that all you got?" says Pharoh. At that, he calls out his own magicians, each armed with a stick of his own. One by one each magician turns his staff into a snake, then turns the snake back to a staff. Needless to say, Pharoh has not been impressed by Aharon's snake trick.

But wait! Hashem has another trick up Aharon's sleeve. Talk about a miraculous finale, Aharon's snake turns back into a staff and the staff swallows all the other staffs! Now that's a miracle even Pharoh can't deny. And he doesn't. He just tells Moshe that he refuses to let the Bnei Yisroel go free.


BRING
ON THE
BLOOD
Blood 1Moshe's frustrated and Pharoh's stubborn. Hashem is gearing up a plague-a-thon. The first event begins the bloody battle: Aharon stretches his staff over the Nile River. The next thing Pharoh knows, the river and all the water in Mitzrayim (even the bottled water in the palace water cooler) turns to blood. Well, that's no big deal. Most Egyptians consider blood a delicacy. Of course, now that all the fish are popping up dead on the Nile and stinking up the place, this blood is enough to turn an Egyptian's stomach. What an inconvenience! No water to drink, no water to wash dishes with, and it's a "blood bath" at the showers!

Meanwhile, the Bnei Yisroel in Goshen are riding the waves of supply and demand. The water may be red to the Egyptians, but it's crystal clear for the Jews. The Goshen Bottled Water Company has never seen so much business! And the Egyptians are willing to pay any price for a clear cup of water. There's one more catch to the plague, though: If a Jew hands a cup of clear water to an Egyptian, that water turns to blood the moment it changes hands.

Pharoh is taken by surprise. Should he let the Jews go? His magicians give him the answer. When they turn water to blood themselves, Pharoh flat-out refuses Moshe's demands.


AMPHIBIOUS
FOLLIES
Frogs 2Plague number two features those slimy frogs. Again, Aharon stretches his staff over the Nile River and they pop out of the Nile and pop into the lives of the Egyptians with a vengeance! Frogs are everywhere - in the oven, on the floor, in the food, in a loaf of bread, in the water... you can't even start your chariot without hearing 'gribit' (croak) from the engine! These frogs are no ordinary frogs either: they croak so loudly that no one can hear anything but frogs day and night and these are biting amphibians. Needless to say, Moshe and Aharon soon get a call from Pharoh on the Yetziat Mitzrayim hotline. Apparently Pharoh is totally freaked out. "Take away the frogs and tell me where to sign the freedom forms," cries Pharoh in desperation. Moshe takes Pharoh at his word (it's still early in the game!) and prays to Hashem to get rid of the frogs. But once the frogs are gone, Pharoh shakes off the deal. The Bnei Yisrael will not be allowed to go free.
3
(BILLION)
BLIND(ING)
"LICE"
Lice 3This time around, Hashem tells Moshe not to even warn Pharoh about what's next on the plague agenda. By the way, aren't you wondering what's coming up? Well, here they come: With a stretch of Aharon's stick through the air, the dust of Mitzrayim turns into a swarm of itchy lice! These tiny ticklers infest the hair and bodies of all the Egyptians and their animals. And, believe me, these lice are nothing to laugh about! Once you've got 'em it's hard enough to get rid of 'em - even without a vengeful G-d hanging over you.

Pharoh may be itching to let the Jews go, but since his magicians are 2 for 2 duplicating the plagues, he calls them in for a consult. To Pharoh's dismay the magician's dismal attempts at copying the plague are demoralizing! Pharoh is faced with a dilemma: does he give in to Moshe's demands? Hashem makes the call this time. He hardens Pharoh's heart, making him more stubborn than ever! Pharoh sits through seven days in 'itchy-dom' until Hashem ends the plague.


WILD
KINGDOM
Moshe appears before Pharoh with a warning: either Pharoh lets the Bnei Yisroel skidaddle or wild animals will be the next artillery in Hashem's battle! Of course, Pharoh stubbornly refuses to let the Jews go and Moshe heads back to Goshen before the first roar.

Wild Animals 4Imagine stepping out of the house just in time to see a herd of rhinoceros come stampeding in your direction. Gorillas attacking people on the street; crowds running in all directions as lions and hyenas attack. It's a scene of havoc wherever you find yourself in Mitzrayim - except in Goshen, of course, where the Bnei Yisroel are off from work on this bright sunny day.

Panicked, Pharoh calls for Moshe and Aharon. He's had enough of this G-d and His power. Pharoh orders Moshe to get rid of the animals. The Jews can leave - good riddance - as soon as those beasts are gone!

Moshe prays for Hashem to take away the beasts. Of course, as soon as they're gone, Pharoh changes his mind again. (What a stubborn guy!)


CATTLE
KAPUT
Cattle 5Plague number five comes alive as pestilence causes the animals of Mitzrayim to die. Every cow, goat, sheep, donkey and camel drops as Pharoh's plan to keep the Bnei Yisroel enslaved flops!

Meanwhile, out in Goshen, the animals of the Bnei Yisroel are alive and kicking. Even a bigger miracle occurs when the animals of a Jew and an Egyptian are mixed in the fields: only the animal of the Egyptian dies.

By now, Pharoh should be escorting the Jews to the gates of Mitzrayim and giving them the boot. But Hashem hardens Pharoh's heart so that he is more stubborn than ever. Now Pharoh will have to endure more plagues before he can choose to free the slaves.


BODY
BUBBLES
Boils 6The next plague is boils. Hashem commands Moshe and Aharon to each pick up two fistfuls of ash. Moshe then takes all four fistfuls, and throws these ashes to the sky. The ashes spread all over Mitzrayim, settling on the skin of every Egyptian man, woman, child and animal. Imagine having a terrible, terrible sunburn. So terrible that blisters and bubbles of puss cover the whole body.

Pharoh and the magicians aren't immune from these blisters. Pharoh is so sick he has to stay in bed. The magicians also become sick. They are so embarrassed that they never show up in Pharoh's court again.


FIRE
AND
ICE
Of course once the Plague stops, Pharoh forgets the pain of his boils and refuses to let Bnei Yisroel go free. Moshe warns Pharoh that the next plague will be as terrifying as all the other makot (plagues) combined. But, of course, Pharoh is too stubborn to heed Moshe's warning. The next day, Moshe is instructed to stretch his hand up to the sky. With this, a hailstorm begins--

Hail 7--A hail storm? Did I say a hail storm? Hail is putting it too simply. Huge blocks of ice covered with fire fall to the ground killing people, crushing houses, starting fires and wreaking terrible havoc all through Mitzrayim.

Pharoh has had it by now. In terror he calls Moshe and Aharon back to the palace. He admits he's sinned. He calls Hashem righteous and the Egyptians and he - wicked. He even promises that the Bnei Yisroel are free to leave. But when the hail storm stops, does Pharoh keep his word? Nooo!!!


Tune in next week when Hashem reaches the finish line at the Plague-a-thon, in our next exciting episode of:

Parsha on Parade

Midrash Maven
See the Midrash Mavin on Vaera


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