Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Parashat Vaera, 5774/2013 edition

Yes, I studied Torah on Nittel--like JoeSettler, I see no good reason not to do so in this time and place.

Basics here.

And here’s a link to my previous Vaera/Vaeira posts.

My new thing, which I tried last week, is to make notes as I’m reading the parashah, then publish the notes (giving new meaning to the term “post-it note”* :) ).  So here goes.

Exodus/Sh’mot, chapter 6:

9 And Moses spoke so unto the children of Israel; but they hearkened not unto Moses for impatience of spirit, and for cruel bondage. {P}

10 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:

11 'Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.'

12 And Moses spoke before the LORD, saying: 'Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?' {P}

13 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt. {S}

According to verses 9 and 12, Moshe has already spoken to both B’nei Yisrael/the Children of Israel and to Par’oh.  Why is the command repeated?  Is verse 13 from a different source?  (See Documentary Hypothesis.)

15 And the sons of Simeon: Jemuel, and Jamin, and Ohad, and Jachin, and Zohar, and Shaul the son of a Canaanitish woman.

A Canaanitish woman? Who else was there?  I asked before and I’ll ask again—who did the other sons marry?  It’s not as if they could have “googled” a shidduch/marital match for themselves on JDate.

20 And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife . . .

He married his aunt?!  Our ancestors were certainly a rather ingrown bunch.

Chapter 7:

1 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'See, I have set thee in God's stead to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
ב  אַתָּה תְדַבֵּר, אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּךָּ; וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ יְדַבֵּר אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, וְשִׁלַּח אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאַרְצוֹ.
2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.

(For the record, I’m copying mostly the English, so as to avoid the possibility that I might be taking G-d’s [Hebrew] name in vain by posting it on my blog.)

When does Aharon speak to Par’oh?

7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spoke unto Pharaoh. {P}

Good grief, how old was Moshe’s and Tziporah’s son when Tziporah circumcised him?!  Or did Moshe just wait forever to get married and/or have a kid?

9 'When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying: Show a wonder for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron: Take thy rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent.'

Hmm, I thought Aharon was supposed to be doing the talking, not the acting.  Yet he seems to do most of the rod-casting, while Moshe seems to be doing most of the talking.  Notice, too, that it’s Aharon’s rod, not Moshe’s, that’s getting cast down.

15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water . . .

If you’ll pardon the indelicacy of this discussion, I heard or read somewhere that the Par’oh waded into Nile every morning to hide the fact that he was human and had to “relieve” himself.  Heaven forbid that the commoners should think that the mighty Par’oh needed to use the men’s room.

20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
כא  וְהַדָּגָה אֲשֶׁר-בַּיְאֹר מֵתָה, וַיִּבְאַשׁ הַיְאֹר, וְלֹא-יָכְלוּ מִצְרַיִם, לִשְׁתּוֹת מַיִם מִן-הַיְאֹר; וַיְהִי הַדָּם, בְּכָל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.

The plagues, standing on one foot:

". . . it's all a matter of pollution--once the Nile turns red/becomes polluted, all but the last plague (the death of the firstborn) pretty much follow as a result. It's natural for the frogs to bail out if the water's polluted, then die of whatever got under their skin (literally). The insects follow the mass death of the frogs, and disease results from the insect infestation. Naturally, I can't find the video, but the History Channel telecast a theory that the death of the firstborn was caused when a natural body of water released trapped gas, which killed only those privileged few who slept on close-to-the-ground beds (firstborn sons and high officials) rather than those sleeping higher up on rooftops (the majority of the population), who were at a high-enough elevation that the poisonous gas passed under them. Traditionalists shouldn't be alarmed by this interpretation--all of these natural phenomena could have been caused by G-d."

15 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh: 'This is the finger of God'; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken. {S}

Is this the origin of the minhag/custom among many folks to dip a finger in their wine, rather than pouring it, to diminish the amount of wine in their cups at the seder in commemoration of the plagues?

18 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end that thou mayest know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.
19 And I will put a division between My people and thy people--by to-morrow shall this sign be.'

  • Parsha catch-up: Vaera (Sunday, January 02, 2011) Included is a link to a DovBear post containing more links than you can shake a stick at.
" . . . is it possible that the area then known as Goshen has or had a microclimate different from the area of Ancient Egypt that was, according to Torah, struck by the plagues, thus accounting for it having been spared most of the plagues? To mix this theory with a more traditional perspective, could HaShem have chosen shepherds to be our ancestors for the purpose of ensuring that, when we went down to Egypt, we'd end up in Goshen and be spared?"

22 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.'

Okay, this plague doesn’t result from pollution of the Nile.  Could there be any connection between hail and a volcanic eruption, such as that of Thera/Santorini?


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