Judaism: The Plagues and the Land of Israel
Moshe KempinskiMoshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.
The American administration is “hell bent” on pressuring Israel to give up its hold on the biblical heartland. The fervor and passion displayed by both Kerry and Obama gives the impression that it is less about some sweet dream of “world peace” and more about securing a name and fame for themselves. Those leaders, though, who claim to be Bible-conversant obviously did not read our Torah portion regarding the plagues.
One could wonder why G-d desired for those plagues to occur in the first place. Could He simply not have taken them out forthwith with “the strong hand and the outstretched arm." (Deut. 7:18-19)
The Torah portion begins with the word Va’eira which means "And I appeared". In this portion much will be revealed of G-d's rulership , compassion and control. G-d begins by revealing more of His” Private Name” to Moshe. He then declares His promise to His people using the "four expressions of redemption,
“Therefore, say to the children of Israel, 'I am HaShem, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their labor, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a G-d to you, and you will know that I am Hashem your G-d, Who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians'”.(Exodus 6: 6-7)
All this in keeping with the declaration G-d had given to Abraham in the book of Genesis;
“And He said unto Abram: 'Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance”. (Genesis 15:13-14)
Yet further in the Torah portion Hashem declares a fifth expression of redemption as well, that denotes the final redemption and purpose.
“I will bring you to the land, concerning which I raised My hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and I will give it to you as a heritage; I am Hashem.” (Exodus 6:8)
Moshe and Aaron declare to the Pharaoh the Divine demand "Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness." Pharaoh repeatedly refuses. G-d begins the series of supernatural events that will change Egypt. Yet even more importantly they are meant to impact the world.
“Because this time, I am sending all My plagues into your heart and into your servants and into your people, in order that you know that there is none like Me in the entire earth". (Ibid 9:14)
Our sages explain how the plagues can be seen as three distinct groupings with three distinct teachings to be conveyed. As we read in the Passover Haggadah "Rabbi Yehuda used to abbreviate them: 'Detzakh Adash Be'achav' (a mnemonic made up of the first letters of each of the ten plagues)."
The ideas are clearly enunciated in each the declaration related to the plagues in each grouping.
The first group intending to display “By this shall you know that I am G-d" (ibid 7:17). Pharaoh may have tried to use his magic to prove equality with G-d but these plagues destroy that attempt.
The second group is meant to convey "in order that you will know that I am G-d in the midst of the land” (ibid 8:18). That is to say not only is G-d supreme but He is present in relationship with all that goes on in the land.
The third group declares "in order that you will know that there is none like Me in all the land.( ibid 9:14) There is no power in this reality that can contend with the power of HaShem
When the reigning world powers understand those three concepts then G-d's plan can move forward . This remains the same whether the ruling world power is Egypt, Babylon, Rome or the United States. The world must comprehend the three truths determined by G-d' actions in ancient Egypt.
The world must come to know that G-d is G-d and that there is no other. They must also come to understand that G-d is actively involved with the world and its destiny. Finally the leaders of the world must understand that there is no power in this world, theological or nuclear that can stop Hashem from achieving His plan and that this is a plan in involves returning His people back into the heart land of His promised land.
It is a lesson that Secretary of State, Kerry and President Obama will be made to learn.
All this to bring to fulfilment of what was promised to Abraham at the very beginning; “In that day Hashem made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'unto your seed have I given this land'", (Genesis 15:18)
LeRefuat Yehudit Bat Golda Yocheved