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    I know what I’m doing – Va’era

    Slavery in Egypt, from a Dutch bible, 1728

    Slavery in Egypt, from a Dutch bible, 1728

    The sidra opens with an announcement: “God spoke to Moses and said, ‘I am the Lord’” (Ex. 6:2).

    Naturally we wonder why this declaration of Divine identity was necessary.

    Perhaps it links up with the end of last week’s reading (Ex. 5:22), where Moses asks HaShem, “Why have you treated this people so badly?”

    Moses was feeling aggrieved. God’s people were suffering at the hand of Egypt and though God had commanded him to plead with Pharaoh, the response was that things only became worse.

    Why had God not stepped in to save the downtrodden Hebrew slaves?

    God’s reply didn’t seem to help: “I am the Lord!” The implication is, “I know what I am doing!”

    There is an analogy in the works of the Chafetz Chayyim, who says that human beings usually can’t see the whole picture.

    Someone looks at the way a skyscraper is being built and wonders why this, that or the other element is necessary. Surely the task can be done more quickly and easily without it!

    But, explains the Chafetz Chayyim, if the architect and engineer included this particular element in their design, it must have had a part in the overall project.

    Similarly with God. He says, “I am the Lord! Even though you are puzzled and even affronted by a specific event or action of Mine, it is part of My plan, and in the end all will turn out all right!”

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