Parshat Va’era (Exodus 6:2–9:35)
By Zachary Maine
In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Va’era, G-d tells Moshe to tell the Jewish people that G-d is coming to save them. The parsha features the first seven of the 10 plagues that torture the Egyptians. All of the water in Egypt turns into blood. Egypt is covered in frogs, then plagued with lice. Vicious beasts cover the land, and G-d kills all of the Egyptian livestock. Boils cover every man, and a heavy hail falls on Egypt. Moshe and Aharon repeatedly demand that Pharaoh let the Jewish people escape slavery, yet Pharaoh remains stubborn and refuses to change his mind.
Although the Egyptians did many terrible things to the Jewish slaves, we still have sympathy for the Egyptians. After all, they suffered many losses because of the plagues. That is why we take 10 drops of wine out of our cups during the Seder on Pesach: to show that the holiday is not entirely joyful because we do not celebrate the suffering of other people. The Jewish people are meant to be a people of love and forgiveness, and we realize that not everyone is perfect.
As I become a bar mitzvah, I want to take on the attribute that generations of Jews before me have taken: that of forgiving. In this role, I will try to see the spark of goodness in every soul, and see the flaws of others not as permanent but rather as something that can be fixed.
On Yom Kippur, we pray with the words: “We have sinned … Forgive us.” Hopefully, G-d then forgives us, for He can see that we are still human. I think the Egyptians, as a whole, probably felt bad about how much they benefited from having Jewish slaves, and probably wanted forgiveness. We should always try to look past the negative and see someone’s good traits. We should also strive to trust that even if at the moment someone else looks bad, he or she can repent and do better in the future.
Zachary Maine is in the seventh grade at Krieger Schechter Day