Vaera – Moshe’s Mission

Despite the revelation to Moshe of G-d’s promise of redemption, the people of Israel were unable to “hear” it due to their “impatience of spirit and the cruel bondage”. Moshe understood and it weakened his confidence when it came to approaching Pharaoh.  Nechama Leibowitz, in commenting on this difficulty, quoted from Abarbanel who asked what was new about the repetition of G-d’s command “to the children of Israel and Pharaoh to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt”. Abarbanel suggested that it should be understood that G-d “commended” Aaron and Moshe to the children of Israel and Pharaoh, in that He endowed them with the power to command the respect and fear of their listeners. Their words would then find a ready ear in all matters connected with bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt. So this was G-d’s answer to Moshe’s sense of dejection.

 

Rambam and Rashi used this phrase to comment that Moshe and Aaron were being advised how to address the people of Israel and Pharaoh. “Their authority should be exercised with humility and reverence, and they should not treat the people with disrespect even if they were ignorant”. Rambam also wrote that G-d made Moshe and Aaron accept the leadership of the people “on the understanding that they would curse them and stone them”. Leibowitz quoted Rashi who commented that Moshe and Aaron were commanded to lead the people gently and patiently, and to behave respectfully when they addressed Pharaoh. Not only did the Pharaoh require persuasion but the children of Israel had to be persuaded to accept freedom and accept the “yoke of heaven”, rejecting the easier course of being ruled by others.

 

R’ Jonathan Sacks wrote that this is the beginning of the history of the Jewish people and the beginning of the history of G-d’s role in history.

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