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Parashat VaEra



Exodus 6:2 – 9:35


Hebrew Vocabulary




Hebrew Parsha


HaShem spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am HaShem. I revealed Myself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai, and did not allow them to know Me by My name. I also made My covenant with them, promising to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, where they lived as foreigners. I have also heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are holding as slaves, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the Israelites in My name, I am HaShem. I will take you away from your forced labor in Egypt and free you from their slavery. I will liberate you with a demonstration of My power, and with great acts of judgement. I will take you to Myself as a nation, and I will be to you as a G-d. You will know that I am HaShem, the One who is bringing you out from under the Egyptian subjugation. I will bring you to the land regarding which I raised My hand, swearing that I would give it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will give it to you as an inheritance. I am HaShem.”

Moses related this to the Israelites, but because of their disappointment and hard work, they would no longer listen to him. HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, “Go, speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he will let the Israelites leave his land.” Moses spoke, interrupting the revelation. “Even the Israelites will not listen to me,” he said. “How can I expect Pharaoh to listen to me? I have no self-confidence when I speak.”

HaShem then spoke to both Moses and Aaron. He gave them instructions regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so they would be able to get the Israelites out of Egypt.


These are the heads of their extended families:

The sons of Israel’s first-born, Reuben: Enoch (Chanokh), Pallu, Chetzron and Carmi. These are the families of Reuben. The sons of Simeon: Yemuel, Yamin, Ohad, Yakhin and Tzochar, as well as Saul, son of the Canaanite woman. These are the families of Simeon.

According to their family records, these are the names of Levi’s sons: Gershon, Kehoth and Merari. Levi lived to be 137 years old.

The families descending from Gershon: Livni and Shimi.

The sons of Kehoth: Amram, Yitzhar, Hebron (Chevron), and Uzziel. Kehoth lived to be 133 years old.

The sons of Merari: Machli and Mushi.

According to their family records, the above are the families of Levi.

Amram married his aunt Yokhebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived to be 137 years old. The sons of Yitzhar: Korach, Nefeg and Zikhri. The sons of Uzziel: Mishael, Eltzafan and Sithri. Aaron married Nachshon’s sister, Elisheva daughter of Aminadav. She bore him Nadav, Avihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. The sons of Korach: Assir, Elkana and Aviasaf. These are the families of the Korachites.

Aaron’s son, Eleazar, married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Pinchas. The above are the heads of the Levite clans according to their families.

This is the lineage of Moses and Aaron, to whom HaShem said, “Bring the all the Israelites out of Egypt together.” They are the ones who spoke to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, in order to get the Israelites out of Egypt. It involved both Moses and Aaron. Still, on that day in Egypt, HaShem spoke only to Moses.

Second Conversation

HaShem spoke to Moses and said, “I am HaShem. Relate to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, all that I am saying to you.” Interrupting the revelation, Moses said, “I do not have the self-confidence to speak. How will Pharaoh ever pay attention to me?”

HaShem said to Moses, “Observe! I will be making you like a god to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You must announce all that I order you to, and your brother Aaron will relate it to Pharaoh. He will then let the Israelites leave his land. I will make Pharaoh obstinate, and will thus have the opportunity to display many miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt. This is why Pharaoh will not pay attention to you. But then I will display My power against Egypt, and with great acts of judgement, I will bring forth from Egypt My armies – My people, the Israelites. When I display My power and bring the Israelites out from among them, Egypt will know that I am HaShem.”

Moses and Aaron did this. They did exactly as HaShem had instructed them. When they spoke to Pharaoh, Moses was 80 years old, and Aaron was 83 years old.

The Staff Becomes a Serpent

HaShem said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, he will tell you to prove yourself with a miraculous sign. You, Moses, must then tell Aaron to take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh. Let it become a viper!” Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh. They did exactly as HaShem had said. Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh, and it became a viper.

Pharaoh summoned his scholars and magicians. The master symbolists were able to do the same thing with their magic tricks. When each one threw down his staff, the staffs all turned into vipers. Aaron’s staff then swallowed up their staffs. But Pharaoh remained obstinate and did not pay attention to them, just as HaShem had predicted.

Warnings for the First Plague

HaShem said to Moses, “Pharaoh is obstinate and he refuses to let the people leave. Pay a call on Pharaoh in the morning, when he goes out to the water. Stand where you will meet him on the bank of the Nile. Take in your hand the staff that was transformed into a snake. Say to him: HaShem, Lord of the Hebrews, has sent me to you with the message, Let My people leave, and let them worship Me in the desert. So far, you have not paid attention. HaShem now says, Through this you will know that I am HaShem. I will strike the water of the Nile with the staff in my hand, and the water will turn into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will become putrid. The Egyptians will have to stop drinking water from the Nile.”

Blood: The First Plague

HaShem said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to take his staff and extend his hand over the waters of Egypt – over their rivers, their canals, their reservoirs, and every place where water is kept – and the water shall turn into blood. There will be blood throughout all Egypt, even in wooden barrels and stone jars.”

Moses and Aaron did exactly as HaShem had instructed. Aaron held the staff up, and then struck the Nile’s water in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials. The Nile’s water was transformed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river became so polluted that the Egyptians were no longer able to drink the Nile’s water. There was blood everywhere in Egypt. However, when the master symbolists of Egypt were able to produce the same effect with their hidden arts, Pharaoh became obstinate. He would not pay attention to Moses and Aaron, just as HaShem had predicted. Pharaoh turned his back to them and went to his palace. Even to this miracle, he would not pay attention.

The Egyptians dug around the Nile for drinking water, since they could not drink any water from the river. After HaShem struck the Nile, it remained that way for seven full days.

Frogs: The Second Plague

HaShem said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him in My name, Let My people leave so they can serve Me. If you refuse to let them leave, I will strike all your territories with frogs. The Nile will swarm with frogs, and when they emerge, they will be in your palace, in your bedroom, and even in your bed. They will also be in the homes of your officials and people, even in your ovens and kneading bowls.

When the frogs emerge, they will be all over you, your people, and your officials.” HaShem said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to point the staff in his hand at the rivers, canals and reservoirs, and he will make frogs emerge upon Egypt.”

Aaron held his hand out over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs emerged, covering Egypt. The master symbolists were able to produce the same effect with their hidden arts, making frogs emerge on Egyptian land.

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and said, “Pray to HaShem! Let Him get the frogs away from me and my people. I will let the people leave and sacrifice to HaShem.”

“Try and test me,” replied Moses. “Exactly when shall I pray for you, your officials and your people? The frogs will immediately depart from you and your homes, remaining only in the Nile.”

“Tomorrow!” said Pharaoh.

“As you say,” replied Moses. “You will then know that there is none like HaShem. The frogs will depart from you, as well as from your houses, your officials and your people. They will remain only in the Nile.”

Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, and Moses cried out to HaShem concerning the frogs that He had brought upon Pharaoh. HaShem did just as Moses said, and the frogs in the houses, courtyards and fields died.

The Egyptians gathered them into great heaps, and the land stank.

When Pharaoh saw that there had been a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, just as HaShem had predicted.

Lice: The Third Plague

HaShem said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to hold out his staff and strike the dust of the earth. It will turn into lice all over Egypt.”

They did this. Aaron held out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth. The lice appeared, attacking man and beast. Throughout all Egypt, the dust had turned into lice. The master symbolists tried to produce lice with their hidden arts, but they could not. Meanwhile, the lice were attacking man and beast alike.

“It is the finger of G-d,” said the master symbolists to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh remained obstinate and would not listen, just as HaShem had predicted.

Harmful Creatures: The Fourth Plague

HaShem said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, and confront Pharaoh when he goes out to the water. Say to him in My name, Let My people leave and serve Me. If you do not let My people leave, I will send swarms of harmful creatures to attack you, your officials, your people, and your homes. The houses of Egypt, and even the ground upon which they stand, will be filled with these creatures.

On that day, I will miraculously set apart the Goshen area, where My people remain, so that there will not be any harmful creatures there. You will then realize that I am HaShem, right here on earth.

I will therefore make a distinction between My people and your people. This miraculous sign will take place tomorrow.” HaShem did this, and huge throngs of creatures attacked the palaces of Pharaoh and his officials. Throughout all Egypt, the land was devastated by the creatures.

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “Go!” he said. “You have permission to sacrifice to your G-d here in our land.” “That would hardly be suitable,” replied Moses. “What we will sacrifice to HaShem is sacred to the Egyptians. Could we sacrifice the sacred animal of the Egyptians before their very eyes and not have them stone us? What we must do is make a three day journey into the desert. There we will be able to sacrifice to HaShem, just as He told us.” “I will let you leave,” said Pharaoh, “as long as you do not go too far away. You can sacrifice to HaShem in the desert. But pray for me!”

Moses answered, “When I leave your presence, I will pray to HaShem. Tomorrow, the creatures will go away from Pharaoh, his servants, and his people. But let Pharaoh never again deceive us, refusing to let the people sacrifice to HaShem.” Moses left Pharaoh’s presence and prayed to HaShem. Doing as Moses requested, God caused the creatures to leave Pharaoh, his servants and his people. Not a single one remained. But this time again, Pharaoh made himself obstinate, and he would not let the people leave.

Boils: The Sixth Plague

HaShem told Moses to go to Pharaoh, and in the name of HaShem, Lord of the Hebrews, say to him, Let My people leave and serve Me. For if you refuse to let them leave, and continue holding them, HaShem’s power will be directed against your livestock in the field. The horses, donkeys, camels, cattle and sheep will die from a very serious epidemic. I will again make a miraculous distinction, this time between Israel’s livestock and that of Egypt. Not a single animal belonging to the Israelites will die. HaShem has set a fixed time, and has announced that He will strike the land with this tomorrow. On the next day, HaShem did this, and all the livestock in Egypt died. Of the Israelites’ livestock, however, not a single one was affected.

Pharaoh was sent word and discovered that among the Israelites’ livestock, not a single animal had died. But Pharaoh remained obstinate and would not let the people leave.

Boils: The Sixth Plague

G-d said to Moses and Aaron, “Take a handful of furnace soot and throw it up in the air before Pharaoh’s eyes. It will settle as dust on all Egypt, and when it falls on man or beast anywhere in Egypt, it will cause a rash breaking out into boils.”

They took the furnace soot and stood before Pharaoh. Moses threw it up in the air, and it caused a rash, which broke into boils, in man and beasts. The master symbolists could not stand before Moses as a result of the rash, since the rash had attacked the symbolists along with the rest of Egypt.

Now it was HaShem who made Pharaoh obstinate. He did not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as HaShem had predicted.


HaShem told Moses to get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh, saying to him: “In the name of HaShem, Let My people leave and serve Me. This time, I am prepared to send all My catastrophes against your very heart. They will strike your officials and your people, so that you will know that there is none like Me in all the world. I could have unleashed My power, killing you and your people with the epidemic sent against the animals, and you would have been obliterated from the world. The only reason I let you survive was to show you My strength, so that My name will be discussed all over the world. But now you are still lording it over My people, refusing to let them leave. At this time tomorrow, I will bring a very heavy hail. Never before in Egypt, since the day it was founded, has there been anything like it. Now send word and make arrangements to shelter your livestock and everything else you have in the field. Any man or beast who remains in the field, and does not come indoors, will be pelted by the hail and will die.”

Some of Pharaoh’s subjects feared HaShem’s word, and they made their slaves and livestock flee indoors. But those who did not fear HaShem’s word left their slaves and livestock in the field.

Hail: The Seventh Plague

HaShem said to Moses, “Stretch out your had toward the sky, and there will be hail throughout all Egypt. It will fall on man and beast, and on all outdoor plants all over Egypt.”

Moses pointed his staff at the sky, and HaShem caused it to thunder and hail, with lightning striking the ground. HaShem then made it hail on the land of Egypt. There was hail, with lightning flashing among the hailstones. It was extremely heavy, unlike anything Egypt had experienced since it became a nation. Throughout all Egypt, the hail killed every man and animal who was outdoors. The hail destroyed all the outdoor plants, and smashed every tree in the fields.

Only in Goshen, where the Israelites lived, there was no hail.

Pharaoh sent word and summoned Moses and Aaron. He said to them, “This time I am guilty! HaShem is Just! It is I and my people who are in the wrong! Pray to HaShem. There has been enough of this supernatural thunder and hail. I will let you leave. You will not be delayed again.”

Moses said to him, “When I go out of the city, I will spread my hands in prayer to HaShem. The thunder will then stop, and there will not be any more hail. You will then know that the whole world belongs to HaShem. I realize that you and your subjects still do not fear HaShem. The flax and barley have been destroyed, since the barley was ripe, and the flax had formed stalks. But the wheat and spelt have not been destroyed, since they are late in sprouting.”

Moses left Pharaoh’s presence, and went out of the city. As soon as he spread his hands out to HaShem the thunder ceased, and the hail and rain stopped falling to the ground.

But when Pharaoh saw that there was no longer any rain, hail or thunder, he continued his sinful ways. He and his officials continued to make themselves obstinate. Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not let the Israelites leave, just as HaShem had predicted.


Haftarah Connection

Haftarah Study

Ezekiel 28.25-29.21

This week’s Parsha we see HaShem telling the people that he will free them and show them a new land. In the Haftara Ezekiel is told that HaShem is going to being back the Jews from exile to Israel. He is to warn the Egyptians, like Moses did, that HaShem will punish them.


Sidra Stats

Sidra Stats

  • Fourteenth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
  • Written on 222 lines in the Sefer Torah
  • 121 P’sukim (verses)
  • 1,748 words
  • 6,701 letters

Next week’s Parashat: Bo