• Northeast Kollel

Vaera: Seeing is NOT believing!

Rabbi Yonah Burr


הירא את דבר ד' מעבדי פרעה הניס את עבדיו ואת מקנהו אל הבתים ואשר לא שם לבו אל דבר ד' ויעזב את עבדיו ואת מקנהו בשדה

Whoever among the servants of Pharaoh feared the word of Hashem chased his servants and his livestock to the houses; and whoever did not take the word of Hashem to heart - he left his servants and livestock in the field.


In Parshas Vaera, Hashem begins the process of revealing His existence and power to the world, and particularly to the Jewish People. Each "plague" was a miracle designed to perfectly demonstrate a specific fundamental of Yiddishkeit.


We often think that if Hashem would only show us an open miracle that we could see for ourselves -- it would inspire us to reach the heavens. We would always make the right choices, overcome all our temptations, and attain perfection constantly.


The Ramban (end of Parshas Bo) teaches otherwise. In his commentary after the 10 plagues, one of his most famous pieces, he explains both the central role of these miracles and the reason why Hashem does not perform open miracles for every generation:

...that through the open miracles, we should come to the recognition that everything is a miracle. There is no nature or natural order [that runs by itself] at all.

(Ramban)


The miracles taught the world the truth, the greatness, and the power of the Creator, refuting the mistaken ideologies of that time. We are expected to internalize these lessons and see Hashem’s Hand in everything that occurs.


We are not meant to continuously receive inspiration through miracles. We are meant to take the inspiration, internalize it, and use it to motivate ourselves through everyday life.


We learn another lesson from this Parsha.


Moshe warned the Egyptians before Makkas Barad to bring in their livestock and property. Anything brought inside the house would be spared from the plague.


Whoever among the servants of Pharaoh feared the word of Hashem chased his servants and his livestock to the houses; and whoever did not take the word of Hashem to heart - he left his servants and livestock in the field.


How, after seeing all the previous miracles, could the Egyptians still not bother to bring their livestock and property inside? Could they have possibly harbored any doubt in their minds that Moshe's words were serious, if not absolute?


The Torah tells us that these Egyptians did not show a lack of belief. Their actions, or lack thereof, were caused by ‘not taking it to heart’ -- simply not allowing the facts to make an impression!


One CAN see open miracles -- but if he does not take it to heart, he will remain uninspired! The miracle alone changes nothing if the person makes no effort to derive the inspiration.



These lessons are really two sides of the same coin. If we internalize the lesson of the miracle, we will remain inspired. And if we don’t internalize the lessons -- even open miracles will not help.


May we learn through these parshios of miracles and remain inspired to become better and better!


Have a wonderful Shabbos.

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