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Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Va’era

By Hennie Black


In this week’s parsha, Va’era, Hashem reassures Moshe of the imminent redemption from Egypt. Moshe passes on this message to the Jewish people accordingly, but the Jewish people do not listen to Moshe – the Torah tells us that they don’t listen because of their “shortness of breath and hard work.”

This is not the first time Moshe addressed the people. At the end of last week’s parsha, Moshe and Aharon spoke to the people with a very similar message and the people were very enthusiastic.

What changed? How did they go from having such eagerness and excitement for the upcoming redemption to disinterest and indifference?

Because the Jewish people were so tired from their back-breaking labour, they were literally “short of breath,” and filled with a crushed spirit. In the time period that lapsed between Moshe’s two messages to the Jewish people, Pharaoh had increased their workload; they now how to go out and find their own straw, while maintaining the same daily brick quota. They were too exhausted to care, being so caught up in their own lives and unable to imagine a better future. All hope was seemingly lost.

Even though the Jewish people were at an all-time low, they would soon regain their enthusiasm and strength. It would take the plagues and all of G-d’s wondrous miracles to raise the Jewish people up from their slave mentality and reverse their state of brokenness and despair.

One needs to have the ability to dream and hope in order to live and survive. We have seen throughout history that there have been people that have been more prone to survive different challenges and obstacles. Why is this the case?

Psychology explains that one reason may be due to their ability to hold on to their hopes, their dreams and their faith. A nation that can do this has a greater propensity for survival. This is why the Jewish people are still alive and thrive today.

Today we find ourselves in difficult times; we are just learning about the news of additional lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Many in fact say that Corona is a plague. Throughout this pandemic, we may be feeling that shortness of breath and that crushed spirit. Although we may not be privy to the open miracles that were displayed at the birth of our nation, we can find small miracles and wonders in our everyday lives. We have had to look for every opportunity to see the silver linings and the blessings in our life.  It is the only way to come out of this ordeal, strengthened and not broken by it. 

We have to dream big to maintain our hope and faith for a brighter future! May it happen speedily!

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