This week’s parsha is Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

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I discuss the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Rabbs every Monday at 7pm PST on my live cam and YouTube.

This week’s parsha is Va’era (Exodus 6:2-9:35).

* Is it permitted for a Jew to wish a goy a “Merry Christmas”?

* How should Jews refer to black people? As African-American or black or colored or shvartze?

* Should a beit din (Jewish law court) provide avenues for appeal? Should a beit din have to explain its decisions? Is it permitted for a Jew to appeal a beit din ruling to a secular court? May a Jew sue another Jew in secular court? Can you sue a non-Jew in a beit din?

* At the end of last week’s parsha, Shemot, Moses rebukes God. Abraham asks God questions, but Moses dresses Him down. God never punishes people for getting angry at Him.

* A lot of Jews are atheists because they are angry at God.

* Artscroll: “God speaks harshly to Moses, comparing him unfavorably to the Patriarchs, who maintained their faith without complaint…” Huh?

* Ex. 6:3. What does it mean that God did not reveal himself as HaShem to the patriarchs? How is the God of Moses different from the God of the patriarchs? Why did God perform more miracles for Moses and the Israelites than He did for the patriarchs?

We are more similar to the Jews of Egypt than the patriarchs, who saw God in every act. Jews in Egypt didn’t see God everywhere. If they did, He would seem a slavemaster.

* Artscroll on Ex. 6:4 “Because the patriarchs attitude toward this world was that they were but temporary sojourners, and that their true residence was in the Heavenly world of the spirit.” Huh?

* It is hard to love God and to love people. If you love people, you feel bad for their suffering, and it is hard to love God. If you are in love with God, and your relationship with Him, it is easy to care less about people.

If you study Torah eight hours a day, those are hours you are not helping people, visiting the sick, earning money to give or lend to people who need it. That’s love of God more than love of man. What is your ratio of love of God to love of man? Is it ten to one for God?

* The Lubavitch chumash I studied said that Moshe’s relationship to God was primarily intellectual while the patriarchs’ relationship to God was primarily emotional.

* What is the purpose of the plagues? To teach the Israelites as much as the Egyptians the nature of God. His unity is just one thing. A major theme of the Torah is that God rules nature. Do not worship nature. Worship the one true God. I had a girlfriend named Holly, a photographer, who told me that my urges were natural, as though that made them OK.

* The Torah is opposed to magic and superstition because that stuff implies limits on God’s power. Black cats and ladders have no power. God runs the show. So why are Jews so superstitious?

* Have you ever encountered a magician who could turn your rod into a snake?

* Why would God have Moses and Aaron start out with a trick that Pharoah’s magicians could duplicate?

* “Harden” Pharoah’s heart could also be translated as “strengthen.”

* All the plagues take on Egyptian gods.

* How do you react when people say, God told me XYZ? Spirituality without organized religion is dangerous because you hear what you want to hear.

* How comes the Torah records nothing about Moshe’s descendants?

* I enjoy anonymous commenters as long as they add to the discussion or as long as they amuse me. It is easy for people such as myself who lead solitary lives to speak freely. We’re not married with kids. We don’t have employers. Most people have no such luxury, so if they are going to participate in public chat, they will need to use an anonymous handle.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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