Summary of Parshat Vaera
Parshat Vaera (Exodus 6:2-9:35) begins with Hashem reassuring Moses that He will indeed redeem the Jewish people from servitude and bring them into the land of Israel. After the Torah interjects a detailed genealogy of the tribe of Levi (Moses' family), Hashem reminds Moses that Pharaoh will initially refuse to set the Jewish people free, and Hashem gives Moses more detailed instructions for the upcoming encounter with the king of Egypt.
Moses and Aaron go before Pharaoh again to request a three-day hiatus from work so that the Jewish people can worship Hashem in the desert, and Aaron's staff is miraculously turned into a serpent as a sign of their Divine mission. When the Egyptian sorcerers counter by transforming their staffs into snakes as well, Aaron's staff swallows theirs. Even so, Pharaoh adamantly refuses to free the Jewish people, and the series of ten gruesome and torturous plagues begin. The first seven plagues are described in this week's portion: Blood, frogs, lice, a swarm of wild beasts, pestilence, boils, and hail. Despite the plagues, Pharaoh continues to refuse to free the Jewish people, as his heart is hardened. The portion comes to a close in the middle of these momentous events.
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