Parashat Vaera

Through Moses and Aaron, God brings plagues on the Egyptians, and Pharaoh repeatedly refuses to allow the Israelites to leave.

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The following article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!

God spoke to Moses, "I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God but I did not make Myself known to them by My other name (which is neither pronounced nor translated). I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan. I have heard the moaning of the Israelite slaves. I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the Israelites, 'I am the Lord. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through miracles. I will take you to be My people and I will be your God. You shall know that I am God who freed you from your labors in Egypt and gave you the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Moses Struggles With God's Command

The Lord told Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. But Moses retorted, "The Israelites would not listen to me; how then should Pharaoh heed me, a man of impeded speech!"

The Lord replied to Moses, "I place you in the role of god to Pharaoh with your brother Aaron as your prophet. You shall repeat all that I command you and Aaron shall speak to the Pharaoh. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart so that I may multiply My signs and marvels in the land of Egypt. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I deliver the Israelites from their midst."

Moses was 80 years old and Aaron was 83 when they made their demand on Pharaoh. The Lord told Moses and Aaron, "When Pharaoh says to 'produce your miracles,' then cast your rod before Pharaoh and it shall turn into a serpent."

Moses & Aaron Perform Miracles

Moses and Aaron did as God commanded. Pharaoh summoned his magicians and they turned their rods into serpents. But Aaron's rod swallowed their rods. Yet Pharaoh's heart stiffened and he did not heed them, just as the Lord predicted.

God then commanded Moses, "Go to Pharaoh in the morning when he is coming out of the Nile river. Tell him to let the Israelites go to worship Me in the wilderness. Tell him that I will show I am God by striking the river's water with the rod, turning it into blood and killing all the fish. All the waters in Egypt, even in the vessels, shall turn to blood."

Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded and the waters turned into blood and the fish died. But when Pharaoh's magicians did the same with their spells, Pharaoh's heart stiffened and he refused to let the Israelites go.

Seven days later, God told Moses to say to Pharaoh that "if he refuses to let the people go, I will plague the country and his palace and the people's homes with frogs." And frogs appeared everywhere. But the magicians also brought frogs upon the land.

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.