This week’s parsha, וארא, describes how the Jewish people are facing one of their most difficult times, and the ways that G-d comes to their aid. The Israelites have been enslaved for hundreds of years in Egypt and are desperate for someone to help them. G-d comes to them in their time of need. The parsha states:
וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת־לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת־אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת־מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם׃
This means that G-d promises that G-d will harden Pharaoh’s heart and will bring plagues that will eventually lead to the exodus of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. And this is what actually happens. G-d does harden Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh then refuses to let the Israelites free. The Israelites are suffering and could lose hope that anyone will help them. In this time of great need, G-d comes to the aid of the Israelites and brings 10 plagues against Egypt. Rashi teaches us that Pharaoh’s heart hardened each time so that G-d’s power would be obvious to the Egyptians and to the Israelites. This would allow the Israelites to see how much they needed G-d to step in and save them in a time of distress.
Like G-d was and is for the Jewish people, we can all be there to help others during difficult times. For example, many people from all over the country come to hospitals in our area for expensive medical treatment and stay at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Baltimore. After long days of treatment, they and their families need help with meals and with finding ways to relax. This year, I have spent time planning and cooking for these families and trying to bring comfort to them in a time of need. What I’ve learned from this Torah portion and my own experiences is that we should all try to act in the image of G-d and help those who are experiencing really hard times. I know that all of us in this caring Jewish community can be helpful to those truly in need. Let’s all try to be there for each other.
Jacob Blum is a seventh-grade student at Krieger Schechter Day School.