Shalom and Bracha!
This week we read the portion of Vaeyra and bless the month of
Shevat. The portion describes the first seven of the ten plagues
that preceded the exodus from Egypt. The ten plagues were more
than a punishment for the Egyptians for their evil ways, and
more than a demonstration of Hashem’s might. Each of them
cleansed a different aspect of the negativity of Egypt. This is
also why the plagues were in the number ten; Hashem created the
world with ten utterances and the impurity of Egypt defiled
every aspect of the world. It was therefore necessary for the
purification to be in ten steps. Each of the plagues teaches us
lessons in life. In the first plague all of the waters in Egypt
turned to blood. Water is cold, whereas blood is warm. To
overcome negativity we me serve Hashem with fervor and warmth.
The second plague was frogs. The Torah stresses that the frogs
went everywhere, including the ovens. Unlike the destructive
plagues, like the wild animals and the locusts, the frogs simply
made noise. Nevertheless, they were ready to go into ovens,
endangering themselves. Sometimes, we feel our Mitzvah or our
contribution to the future of the Jewish people is not very
significant, and therefore not worthy of sacrifice or excess
effort. The frogs teach us the opposite. Whatever we do for
Hashem, and whatever we do to advance His plan, must be done
with total devotion and self sacrifice.
The third plague was lice. During the first three plagues,
Pharaoh summoned magicians to imitate the plagues. They
succeeded with the first two. When it came to the plague of
lice, the magicians couldn’t imitate the plague and admitted
this is the Finger of G-d. Rashi explains that magic can’t
work on things that are so small. This is a lesson for all of us
in our approach to the Torah. Often, we can grasp the general
lesson of a particular Mitzvah. However, when it comes to the
minute details, they make no sense to us. Seemingly, if a
Mezuzah is affixed to my doorpost, constantly reminding me of
Hashem’s presence, what difference does it make if a letter is
missing or damaged? Similarly, I can perceive that a pig is a
filthy animal and shouldn’t be eaten. What difference is there
however what utensils I use? The answer is that this is
the Finger of G-d. Only Hashem, who created the world with all
of its intricacies, can fathom the minor details of creation.
Similarly, only His unfathomable wisdom can grasp the meaning of
the minute details of a Mitzvah. By fulfilling the exact
details, we reach the Finger of G-d.
The fourth plague was the mixture of animals entering the homes.
Hashem distinguished between the Egyptian and the Israelite
homes and the animals only entered the homes of the Egyptians.
This teaches us that we must distinguish between human behavior
and animalistic behavior. Our homes must be free from any lowly
and animalistic influences from society. Imagine how absurd it
would be for a boar to be sitting on a couch. Animalistic
behavior should be equally unthinkable.
The fifth plague was the pestilence that killed the cattle of
the Egyptians. The cattle were Egyptian deities. We must learn
from this not to idolize animalistic pursuits. Our physical
needs and pleasures are a tool to better our lives and better
serve Hashem, not goals to be idolized.
The sixth plague was boils. Aharon took ash and threw it to the
sky. It spread over the entire Egypt and afflicted all of the
people and animals. Sometimes we feel that our acts are
insignificant. We must realize that one Mitzvah can spread over
the entire world and bring healing and good. Similarly, one
negative act can cause great pain and destruction.
The seventh plague was that of hail. The hailstones were filled
with flickering flames. Hashem prefaced this plague by saying
“Behold, I will send all of my plagues upon your heart.” Why is
this plague referred to as all of the plagues? The Kli Yakar
explains that this miracle was totally beyond comprehension and
Pharaoh could have no doubt that this was the Hand of Hashem.
This would force him to reconsider all of the previous plagues
and recognize the Hand of Hashem, placing all of the plagues
upon his heart at once. This is a powerful lesson. When we
see a miracle, we must reflect on everything we have experienced
and will experience and realize this too is the Hand of Hashem.
Before the Jewish people entered the land of Israel, Moshe began
to expound the Torah in depth and lucidity on Rosh Chodesh Shvat.
When Moshiach comes, we are assured he will reveal a new
dimension in the depth of Torah. May we celebrate this Rosh
Chodesh Shevat hearing the new dimensions of Torah from Moshiach
united in the land of Israel.
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,
Dedicated in memory of Geri Fessler on the occasion of her
project of Chabad of Great Neck
East Shore Rd.
Great Neck NY 11024
4874554 fax 516 4874807