A Song of Ice and Fire

Categories: Va'eira

This week’s Parsha – Va’era – is chock full of lessons. It contains the beginning of the Ten Plagues of Egypt and the beginning of the end of slavery. It always seems like it was G-d testing a variety of tortures against these slave drivers and was throwing things against the wall to see what would stick and eventually get the Egyptian people to change their minds – Pharaoh in particular – and let the Jewish people go. But why? What is this really about? It must be more as we go through and discuss these plagues at the Seder on Passover. These can’t just be random acts of chaos. And they’re not. We find that each plague served as a lesson certainly to the Egyptians but to the Jewish people too. Before they were to be redeemed, the Jewish people needed to learn lessons that would allow them to truly be free in body and mind. One plague that teaches an interesting lesson is the plague of hail, the final plague mentioned in this week’s Parsha. We find that these were some serious hailstones of ice but that they contained something unusual inside: a flame of fire. Why? Why the need to add to the havoc that this hail was creating? You guessed it. A lesson. G-d was showing all of us that we may encounter an icy situation or, more to the point, an icy person. We may feel like that icy personality is too cold, that we can never warm up to them. Or maybe we are the ones who are frozen over because of a situation in our lives. G-d is teaching us that inside all of us lies a fire. The passion is there. There may be ice and it may appear difficult to chisel it through, but deep down we all possess a flame that needs to be nurtured. We all have the desire deep down to do the right thing. To have meaningful relationships with others. To perform acts of goodness and kindness that make the world a better place. Our job is to chip away at that ice and to allow our abilities to shine and then accomplish that goal. May we all nurture that flame, and, just as the Jewish people were redeemed, we too can go out of whatever limitations may constrain us. Good Shabbos!

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