2 Minutes of Torah Study – Vaera

The transcendent words of our biblical text have lasted thousands of years, inspiring and challenging myriad generations. In this week’s Torah portion, we see that the *style* of writing also adds to its majesty.

At the end of Shemot, last week’s Torah portion, Moses vents his frustrations to God:

Exodus 5:22-23

Adonai, why did You bring harm upon this people?

Why did You send me?

Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has dealt worse with this people;

And You still have not delivered Your people.

God first responds to Moses personal complaint, why did you send me, by saying:

Exodus 6:1

You shall soon see what I will do to Pharaoh: He shall let them go

because of a greater might;

Indeed, because of a greater might

He shall drive them from his land.

And then, in this week’s Torah portion, we see a much longer response to Moses’ more significant concern, why has God not redeemed the people from Egypt.

The beauty of this response is hidden in the structure. Moses’ initial gripes were structured as a chiasmus, a repetition in reverse order. So, too, was God’s initial response. And God’s longer response? An even more elaborate chiasmus that makes the central text stand out as if it were a neon sign. “I am Adonai. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements. And I will take you to be My people, and I will be to you as God.” 

This four-fold promise is so important to us that we drink one cup of wine for each of these promises on Passover. L’chayim!