Shabbat Commentary

4/5 Jan : Vaera : Shabbat comes in 3:50 pm,  ends  5:00 pm

In this week’s portion, God tells Moshe to tell the children of Israel that he will soon take them out of Egypt. In the words of the Torah, “I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians and I will deliver you from their bondage and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…and I will take you to me for a people. (Exodus 6:6,7)

Here, the Torah mentions four words related to the Exodus from Egypt. I will bring you out (vehotzeiti), I will deliver you (vehitzalti), I will redeem you (vega’alti), and I will take you (velakahti). In fact, the four cups of wine used at the Seder table are meant to symbolize these four words of redemption. Wine is the symbol of joy and hence reflects these words which describe the joyous exodus from Egypt.

Rabbi Naftali Zvi Yehuda Berlin notes that the Hebrew term for words often used by the rabbis is leshonot, which literally means languages. For the Netziv, the terms in this portion denote the language of redemption rather than words of redemption. This implies that each term relates to a stage in the redemption process. The stages indicate that redemption, whether personal or national is a process that is gradual.

Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman




January 3, 2019