Parshas Vaera - The International Debt
by Rabbi Dovid Green
Seven of the Ten Plagues happen in this week's parsha. The first three,
blood, frogs, and lice, have something in common. None of them were brought
by Moshe. The first two involved the Nile River. The third, lice, involved
dust. The commentaries tell us that Moshe could not bring these plagues
personally because he had a debt of gratitude to the Nile River, and to the
dust. The river brought him to safety when he was a baby placed in a
floating basket on the Nile. The dust hid the Egyptian that he killed. He
had to pay up his debt. Aharon brought these three plagues instead.
Would the river and the dust have a claim against Moshe had he ignored his
debt of gratitude? Certainly not! Nevertheless, Moshe is teaching us a
valuable life lesson. If he recognizes and acknowledges kindness which is
done for him even by a river, then certainly he will have the same
sensitivity toward people!
This is basic to Torah. Appreciation. Recognizing the good which others have
done for us, and feeling a debt of gratitude. Appreciation is also why we
serve G-d. It's difficult to begin counting all of the kindnesses G-d
bestows on us. Even if He gives us our share of painful experiences, if we
would weigh them next to all of the kindnesses, they would be insignificant
in number. Focus on one life-function such as sight. It's overwhelming to
try to understand how many things need to go right for sight to occur. These
functions faithfully serve billions of people daily, and that's just one of
The word "Jew" comes from the name Yehuda. Yehuda received his name from his
mother Leah. Leah knew that of Yaakov's four wives she made the largest
contribution of children to the tribes of the Jewish people. When Yehuda was
born, the fourth child, Leah noted that she received more than her share.
She named the child Yehuda which is derived from "hoda'ah," thankfulness.
Appreciation is in our name and it is our essence. Getting in touch with our
essence expresses itself through how much we try to pay our debt actively;
daily. Moshe was in touch. Let's all try to do at least one thing each day
as a tangible expression of our appreciation to G-d.
Text Copyright © 1998 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.