Va’era (And I appeared)
* God is revealed to Moses, and expresses four ways that he will redeem the Children of Israel: deliver them from their enslavement, redeem them, and acquire them as God’s own chosen people and bring them to the land God promised to the Patriarchs as their eternal heritage.
* Moses and Aaron repeatedly come before Pharaoh to demand in the name of God, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness.” Pharaoh repeatedly refuses, as God has hardened Pharaoh’s heart. God then sends the first four of a series of plagues upon the Egyptians.
* Through Aaron’s staff, the waters of the Nile turn to blood; swarms of frogs overrun the land; lice infest all men and beasts. Still, “the heart of Pharaoh was hardened and he would not let the children of Israel go, as God had said to Moses.”
At times resolute and at times unsure, Pharaoh wavers in letting the Israelites go, even changing his mind. Here is a wonderful article from the Jerusalem Post by author Moshe Dann that delves more deeply into this:
Let My People Go, the Biblical anthem of freedom, was adopted by the African slaves and later, by the Jews in the former Soviet Union. May we always appreciate the rare privilege of living in freedom.