SALT - Sunday, 24 Tevet 5777 - January 22, 2017

  • Rav David Silverberg

            Parashat Vaera begins with God commanding Moshe to return to Benei Yisrael and assure them that He would be freeing them from Egypt.  After Moshe’s initial meeting with Pharaoh resulted in the king’s increasing the workload and intensifying the people’s suffering, they were angry at and resentful of Moshe (5:20-21), but God now sent him to reiterate His promise of redemption.  We read that the people did not listen to Moshe due to their agony and despair.  Afterward, God told Moshe to return to Pharaoh to demand that he free Benei Yisrael

Curiously, God introduces this new command with the proclamation, “Ani Hashem” – “I am the Lord” (6:29).  Rashi explains this to mean, “I am worthy of sending you and of you fulfilling My mission.”  It seems that according to Rashi, God was impressing upon Moshe that God is “worthy” of issuing this command and of being obeyed.  At first glance, this explanation appears very peculiar.  Did Moshe have any doubts that God is “worthy” of commanding and being obeyed?  Why would this point need to be emphasized?

The answer, perhaps, has to do with Moshe’s own feelings of uncertainty.  As we know from an earlier verse (6:12), Moshe was very skeptical about returning to Pharaoh.  The people saw their hopes shattered and were now angry at Moshe, and there was nothing to suggest that Pharaoh would yield.  God was now sending Moshe on the very same mission that had failed so bitterly the first time around.  Understandably, Moshe could not help but wonder why he should repeat the same action and expect a different result.

For this reason, it would seem, God assured him, “Kedai ani le-shaleichakha u-le’kayeim divrei shelichuti” – that it is always worthwhile and valuable to fulfill God’s will.  Even though Moshe, from his limited human perspective, could not see the value or benefit in returning to Pharaoh, this is what God was telling him to do, and so, by definition, it was a valuable and beneficial undertaking.

Not always do we see the benefits of the good things we do.  We oftentimes wonder whether our efforts are paying off, or if they are perhaps invested without yielding any returns.  Rashi therefore reminds us, “Kedai ani le-shaleichakha u-le’kayeim divrei shelichuti.”  As long as we are fulfilling our Creator’s will, living our lives the way He commanded us, and making a concentrated effort to always make the right choices and act the right way, we can feel gratified and assured that our efforts are valuable and significant.