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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Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron saying, "Plead with the Lord to remove the frogs and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord."

Pharaoh's Stubborness

"I will do it so that you learn that there is none like the Lord our God," Moses answered. Then Moses pleaded to God and God killed the frogs. The people piled the dead frogs in heaps and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he became stubborn and would not let the people go, just as God had predicted.

The Lord told Moses to say to Aaron, "Hold out your rod and strike the dust of the earth and it shall turn to lice throughout the land of Egypt." They did so and vermin came upon man and beasts throughout Egypt. The magicians tried to produce lice with their spells, but they could not. "This is the finger of God," the magicians said to the Pharaoh. But Pharaoh's heart stiffened and he would not heed them, just as God had predicted.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go again to Pharaoh and tell him that if he does not let the people go, I will let loose a swarm of insects. These insects shall swarm all over Egypt, but in the land of Goshen, where My people dwell, there shall be none. Thus shall Pharaoh know that I, the Lord, God, makes a distinction between My people and the Pharaoh's people." And God did so, and throughout Egypt the land was ruined by swarms of insects.

Let My People Go

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron saying, "Go and sacrifice to God within the land."

"It would not be right for us to do this," Moses replied, "because what God commands us to sacrifice is sacred to the Egyptians. If we do so before their very eyes, they will stone us. So we must go a distance of three days in the wilderness to do these sacrifices."

"If you will remove these insects," agreed the Pharaoh, "I will let you go do your sacrifices in the wilderness, but do not go very far."

"And," Moses added, "do not let Pharaoh act deceitfully again and not let the people go."

Moses asked the Lord to remove all the swarms of insects from the land and God did so. But Pharaoh became stubborn and would not let the people go.

God said to Moses, "Tell the Pharaoh that if he refuses to let My people go, then I will strike Egyptian livestock with a severe pestilence, but the Israelite livestock shall not be struck." And the Lord did just that. But the Pharaoh still would not let the people go.

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Each of you take handfuls of soot from the kiln and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become a fine dust over all the land and cause boils on man and beast." And it was done just like that. The magicians were unable to confront Moses because of their own boils. But God stiffened the heart of Pharaoh and he would not let the people go, just as God had foretold.

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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.