Weekly Torah Portion: Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35)


In this Torah portion, God tells Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh to demand freedom for the Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh refuses to free the Israelite slaves, and God unleashes plagues on the Egyptians. Pharaoh promises to free the Israelites and asks Moses to stop each plague, but each time, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. The portion ends with the plague of hail stopping and Pharaoh changing his mind once again. Read an extensive summary on My Jewish Learning

Related D’var Torah

“Perhaps, the heart of the story of the Exodus isn’t so much an historical narration, but rather a tale of our inner psychological occurrence in every given moment.” – Cantor Juval Porat in 2017 Read the full drash

“Some say that the Passover story is the story of the individual Israelite slaves becoming a nation.  The exit through parted waters is a metaphor for childbirth as the walls of water represent the birth canal.” – Rabbi Heather Miller in 2016. Read the full drash

“All we have to do is work in our little corner of the world– to stand up against injustice when we see it.” – Rabbi Heather Miller in 2015. Read the full drash

“Recently a friend wrote me: ‘I am very interested in how folks behind bars are able to maintain faith… it’s hard enough for those of us with privileged lives.’ But my friend had it backwards: faith is stronger for those in distress; it’s their lifeline.” – Rabbi Joe Hample in 2010. Read the drash

“Sorry to mix Biblical allusions, but I wanted someone to comfort me as Rebecca comforted Isaac after the death of his mother, and I needed a Moses to take me out of plague-ridden Egypt.” – Barry Wendell in 2010 Read the drash

“At the celebration of her daughter’s lesbian wedding, my mother was heard to say quite matter-of-factly: ‘I guess if you live long enough, you see everything.’” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 2006. Read the drash

“The older we get, the more times our hearts are scarred and not healed…” – Avram Chill in 2003. Read the drash

Torah Verse of the Week*

“Indeed, this time I will send all my blows upon your heart, and against your servants, and against your people, so that you may know that there is none like Me throughout all the land.” (Exodus 8:14; Parashat Va’era)

Other Suggested Readings

“Let’s build the relationships we need to empower each other, to nurture each other’s spirits, to truly enable us to have the power we need to bring good into our world.” – Read from Leah Zimmerman’s blog “Experiencing Torah”

“Now that we’re once again into our annual reading of the Book of Exodus, we get reminded on a weekly basis of what happens when people don’t bend, when they lose flexibility (or never had in the first place).” – Rabbi Lisa Edwards in 2000. Read the drash

“Parashat Vaera offers deep insight into the insecurity and hesitation many of us experience when challenged to respond to injustice, providing a concrete example of the power of advocacy and the importance of being an ally.” – Y. Gavriel A. Levi Ansara in 2008. Read the text on Keshet’s website


*Torah Verse of the Week is chosen by the Torah class during Tuesdays’ studies with Rabbi Lisa Edwards. Check out when our next Torah Study takes place

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