Parshas Vaera

Note: The Shabbos Torah Reading is divided into 7 sections. Each section is called an Aliya [literally: Go up] since for each Aliya, one person “goes up” to make a bracha [blessing] on the Torah Reading.

1st Aliya: The year is 2448 and Moshe had unsuccessfully confronted Pharaoh. The situation had gotten worse, not better, and Hashem (G-d) reassured Moshe that in fact the redemption was about to begin. The 4 statements of redemption are stated for which we have the 4 cups of wine at the Passover Seder.

2nd & 3rd Aliyot: Moshe’s Yichus (lineage) is established. He is 80 years old and Aharon is 83.

4th Aliya: Moshe performed the miracle of the “staff turning to a serpent” and performed the first and second plagues.

5th Aliya: Moshe performed the third plague and forewarned Pharaoh about the fourth.

6th Aliya: The fourth, fifth, and sixth plagues were performed, and Moshe forewarned Pharaoh regarding the seventh.

7th Aliya: The seventh plague was performed and Pharaoh “hardens his heart” and refused to let the Jews go.

Haftorah Vaera
Yechezkel 28:25

The theme of the Exodus is the Jew and the Egyptian recognizing G-d’s absolute mastery over all things. The nature of a slave / master relationship is for the slave to be dependent on the master and the master to feel a proprietorship over the slave. At the time of the Exodus, Pharoah had to be humbled, the Jews had to be freed of their dependency upon Egypt, and the Jews would have to direct their fealty to G-d, and G-d alone.

Egypt retained her position as a major world power into the era of the first Bais Hamikdash (Temple). It would be Babylon that would humble Egypt and strip her of her position as a major international power.

Yechezkel, the Navi, prophesied the downfall of Egypt around the year 3332 – 429 b.c.e. He compared Egypt to a great sea monster that dominated the sea. The fisherman caught the sea monster along with all the other fish that clung to the defeated monster, and dragged them into the wilderness to rot and become food for the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky. So too, the same would happen to Egypt and the Bnai Yisroel who had formed an unholy alliance with Egypt against the might of Babylon. Nevuchadnetzar would eventually destroy Egypt along with Israel who had clung to Egypt for protection. In order for the Jew to be truly free of all-foreign domination and oppression he would have to accept his dependency upon G-d, and G-d alone.