Shabbat Parashat Va'eira| 5767
When and Why Did Hashem Speak?Harav Yosef Carmel
In the beginning of our parasha, after Moshe and Aharon performed miracles before Paroh, the Torah explains why Paroh was not convinced to let Bnei Yisrael go. “Paroh’s heart was hard, and he did not listen to them, as Hashem had spoken” (Shemot 7:13). We find similar language after the plague of blood. Again, his heart was hard as Hashem had said. In fact, the idea that Hashem had spoken that the phenomenon would occur comes up no less than six times. Rashi (on Shemot 8:11) asks: “Where did Hashem speak so?” It will be very instructive to look at the pasuk that Rashi brings as an answer in its context. We will paraphrase that section of the Torah (Shemot 7: 1-7).
Pasuk 1- Hashem told Moshe that he and Aharon would be leader and spokesman, respectively, in the attempt to sway Paroh. Pasuk 2- Moshe and Aharon should speak to Paroh so that he should let Bnei Yisrael leave his land. Pasuk 3- Hashem would harden Paroh’s heart and do many miracles throughout then land. Pasuk 4- Paroh would not listen, and Hashem’s Hand performing great plagues would free Bnei Yisrael. (This is the pasuk that Rashi cited). Pasuk 5- Egypt would recognize Hashem’s Hand, which brought about the Exodus. Pasuk 6- Moshe and Aharon did as Hashem commanded. Pasuk 7- Moshe and Aharon were 80 and 83, respectively, when they spoke to Paroh.
Careful reading of these p'sukim (see our long article on the matter in Hemdat Ha’aretz, vol. 2) uncovers that there were two possible approaches to achieving the liberation from Egypt. The first one, hinted at in p’sukim 1-2, & 7 was to bring about the liberation just by means of their prophetic speech. Using this approach, there would have been no need for Paroh’s heart to be hardened to accept more plagues and miracles. Rather, Bnei Yisrael’s high level of belief would have had such impact on Paroh that he would have let them go based on words alone, obviating the need for miracles.
The second approach is described in p’sukim 3-6. Using this approach, it was the miracles and plagues that impacted Paroh and ultimately caused him to agree to the Exodus. On one hand, this approach did not require Bnei Yisrael to reach great heights in belief. On the other hand, the process of obtaining Paroh’s acquiescence had to be a more drawn out and complicated one.
Moshe chose the second approach as the one he felt was most appropriate for Bnei Yisrael. Therefore, as the series of miracles and plagues ran its course, Hashem reminded Moshe that He had told him that all of this was necessary only because Moshe was afraid to try to liberate the nation with speech alone.
Let us pray that we, who have seen so many miracles in our era, will merit witnessing the return to hearing Heavenly speech once again.
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