Va-eira (And I –God- Appeared)

Va'eiraExodus 6:2 – 9:35

In this week’s text we see the start of Israel’s journey from slavery to freedom. God tells Moses of this planned journey that will change the Israelite nation forever. These same words can also show us how to change the course of our lives.

This week marks the start of another new year -2016 – Here’s to a year of health, success, and a year in which your goals are accomplished.

In many ways the New Year is like the parsha we are reading this week. The New Year presents us with new challenges … challenges of a journey that could take us many miles from our present location, or an internal journey that reframes our mental position.

In this week’s parsha God speaks to Moses: “I have heard the moaning of the Israelites because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered my covenant.” (Ex. 6:5) We are presented with the problem.God describes a “journey” that will free the Israelites from their problems.

“I am the Eternal.”

  • “I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians”
  • “and deliver your from their bondage.”
  • “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.”
  • “And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ex. 6:6-7)

God presents this four-stage solution – a journey – that will bring the Israelites from Egyptian slavery to freedom in their own land. Rabbi Max Weiman (Lives in St. Louis and has written several books and authors a web site ) writes that these four stages also appear in the Passover Seder as four symbolic cups of wine. He explains each of these four stages as follows:

  1. “free you from the labors” – God will stop the servitude.
  2. “deliver from bondage” – God will take the Israelites out of Egypt. This removes the problem and assures that it will not happen again.
  3. “redeem you” – God will remove the effects of the problem… the slave mentality, lack of wealth, and lack of an independent society.
  4. “take you to be my people” – God gives the Israelites a new purpose for existence, something positive and proactive. (Rabbi Max Weiman, Mystical Tour appearing on, January 2, 2016)

These are the same steps that can be taken to complete a “journey” toward changes in our lives…..1. Remove the old ways … 2. Move to a place or a way of thought that will prevent return to past habits… 3. Create a new mind-set that moves toward the goal….
4. Take positive actions that will bring the goal of the journey to reality.

Four steps that seem easy. But, as we read in the Exodus story, the journey is not easy. Hard times arise and the past doesn’t seem so bad…. Then, there is back-sliding and unforeseen obstacles that arise and must be dealt with…. The journey can also be very time consuming…. And, maybe, we see that a goal just isn’t obtainable. This is time to look toward alternatives that will also solve the original problem.

Rabbi Weiman also views these four steps as a way of Tushvah.

Teshuva means to return. When we do something that we know took us away from the Infinite and holiness, we don’t beat ourselves up, wallow in guilt, or crawl into a hole. We do something called teshuva. We try to correct ourselves. We return to the Almighty.”

“This is a four-step process, hinted to in the verses of redemption from Egypt:”

  1. Stop the problem – resolve not to do the transgression again.”
  2. Rescue – put yourself in a circumstance where you won’t be tempted to do the transgression again. If every time you hang out with a group of people, you end up gossiping, consider not hanging out with that group anymore.”
  3. Remove the effects of the transgression – If you stole something, you need to return it. If you became insensitive to people, you need to read material on how to be more sensitive.”
  4. Do something positive – Every transgression comes from a misplaced desire. Look for opportunities to increase a positive activity that removes the desire for transgression. If you find yourself saying something negative about a friend, think of three constructive ways you can help your friend change.” (ibid)

Again, I want to send my best wishes for the coming new year…. A year in which it is hoped that all your journeys will be successful.

Earl Sabes

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