27 Jan Rabbi Hillel Skolnik’s Torah Spark for Parashat Va’eira 5777
This Shabbat we read from Parashat Va’eira, in which God sends seven of the ten plagues on the Egyptians. During the opening few plagues, after Moses and/or Aaron performs the plague, the magicians of Egypt match the action by doing it on their own. For example, after Aaron casts out Moses’ staff over the Nile River and turns it into blood, the Egyptian magicians perform their spells and turn water into blood as well. Eventually, however, they find themselves magically outclassed, though not by Moses and Aaron, but by God. These human magicians might have been able to turn water into blood and make frogs jump from the Nile, but when it came to things like pestilence and hail, they were way out of their league. The truth is that it doesn’t ever pay to try and compete with God’s abilities because God is God and we are but humans. That is not to say that we should lose confidence in our abilities and in the power that we all hold to change the world because each of us yields tremendous power for change. But at the end of the day, the ultimate power lies in the hands of the One who gave to us any abilities that we might have.
Rabbi Hillel Skolnik