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YUTORAH IN PRINT • A PROJECT OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE
 Va’era 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
The Marcos and Adina Katz
YUTORAH
IN
 PRINT
 Vaera 5774
E
 xodus 7:1-3 saes: Te L-RD replied o Moses, “See, I make you an oracle o Pharaoh, and your  broher Aaron shall be your spokesman. You shall repea all ha I command you, and your broher Aaron shall speak o Pharaoh, o le he Israelies depar rom his land. Bu I will harden Pharaohs hear, ha I may muliply My signs and marvels in he land o Egyp (JPS ranslaion).Prima acie (a firs blush), his las verse is predesinarian. I implies ha God predesined ha Pharaoh would harden his hear. Now, an aninomy exiss beween he docrine o human ree will and he scripural verses ha imply predesinaion. How can one uphold boh proposiions? How does one resolve he conradicion? Hazal, in Shemo Rabbah (13:3) declare ha Pharaoh was an excepional sinner, and hereore he did no meri he human gif o ree will.wo o he earlier medieval Jewish philosophers, R. Sa‘adiah Gaon and R. Abraham ibn Ezra, however, reahe mater differenly. (Te ollowing exposiion is aken largely rom Harry A. Wolson, Repercussions o he Kalam in Jewish Philosophy [Cambridge, Mass. And London, 1979], pp. 204-08.)R. Sa‘adiah (882-942), wihou menioning he rabbinic explanaion, saes ha he biblical saemens abou God’s “hardening” or “making srong” or “making heavy” Pharaoh’s hear does no mean ha God caused him o disobey Him; raher, God gave Pharaoh srengh and oriude so ha he could wihsand he plagues and “remain alive unil he res o he punishmen had been compleely visied upon him” In his choice o acion, however, Pharaoh was a ree agen. R. Sa‘adiah says he same hing wih regard o similar verses concerning Sihon he king o he Bashan.) R. Sa‘adiah similarly reinerpres a verse in he book o Isaiah (63:17) ha implies ha God causes men o go asray. In his view, i really means only ha God ound he wicked o have gone asray (due o heir own ree will). (See Emuno ve-De‘o, Book IV, Chaper 6.)R. Abraham ibn Ezra (1089 or 1092/3–1164 or 1167), gives hree explanaions o he hardening o he hear o Pharaoh. In his longer commenary o Exodus 7:3 he quoes he explanaion ha R. Sa‘adiah gave, bu atribued i o he “Rabbi Jeshua” (he Karaie). He adds, however, “Bu he has no spoken wha is righ.” In his Shorer Commenary o Exodus 7; 3, he atribues he same explanaion o “men o balanced judgmen,” (anshe shiqqul ha-da‘a) ha is, raionaliss, and elsewhere he includes R. Sa‘adiah Gaon under ha rubric. He hen adds ha his own personal view will be gleaned rom his commenary o Deueronomy 5:26 (May hey [he people o Israel] always be o such mind, o revere Me and o ollow My commandmens, ha i may go well wih hem and wih heir children orever!). He says in his commens o ha  verse ha as God has singled ou all human beings and given hem he aculy o reason, he has also given hem ree will. Pharaoh hus really hardened his hear by his own ree will. Bu inasmuch as i is God who has given him ha reedom o will by which he could choose o harden his hear, God is spoken o in Scripure as he One who has hardened he hear o Pharaoh.In his longer commenary o Exodus 10:20 (Bu he L-RD siffened Pharaohs hear, and he would no le he Israelies go), R. Abraham ibn Ezra hins a ye a hird explanaion. He wries here ha he verse is in accordance  wih wha our sages have said, “o him who desires o conaminae himsel, doors are open [o go and ac according o one’s ree choice].”
Te Aninomy of Free Will and God’s Predesinaion
Rabbi David Horwitz
 
2
YUTORAH IN PRINT • A PROJECT OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE
 Va’era 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
 Wha does his enigmaic senence mean? Pro. Wolson explained ha firs o all, he ibn Ezra undersands ha he verse mus no be aken lierally. Raher, i means ha  because o his own ree will, Pharaoh chose o disobey God, and God in urn le him ollow he inclinaions o his own hear. I is only in his sense ha God hardened Pharaohs hear. God simply did no hink o Pharaoh as meriing auxiliary grace ha would help him urn away rom his reely chosen bad conduc. R. Abraham ibn Daud, he Spanish-Jewish asronomer, hisorian, and philosopher rom oledo, Spain (ca. 1110-ca.1180); auhor o he chronicle iled Seer ha-Qabbalah, and auhor as well o a philosophical work called Emunah Ramah, ollows R.  Abraham ibn Ezras hird explanaion.Remarkably, R. obiah ben Eliezer, a naive o Greece, and an auhor wih a syle vasly differen han ha o he ibn Ezra, in his case (in his commen o Exodus 10:20) gives he same explanaion ha he ibn Ezra does. (obiah ben Eliezer was a almudis and poe o he 11h cenury. His work Leqah ov, a midrashic commenary on he Penaeuch and he Five Megillo, is also called Pesiqa Zuraa. ) From he Leqah ov one sees ha he Spanish-Jewish philosophers were no he only ones who sough o resolve aninomy beween ree will and divine predesinaion expressed in he biblical verses regarding he hardening o Pharaoh’s hear wih a maximalis asserion o human ree will.
Belaed Inroducions
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin
 W 
hen Moshe’s birh was chronicled in Parsha Shmo, he ex deliberaely omited any descripion o his lineage, choosing insead o preace his birh wih he myserious senence “And a man  wen rom he House o Levi and he ook a daugher o Levi.”Tis omission o Moshe’s bona fides is now addressed in Parsha Va’eira.God commands Moshe o reurn o Pharaoh and again demand he release o he Israelie slaves. When Moshe objecs, ciing his speech impedimen, God repeas he direcive, his ime o boh Moshe and Aharon.Te orah hen abruply digresses o presen a genealogical able lising he descendens o Yaakov’s oldes sons, Reuven, Shimon and Levi. Te lising concludes wih a deailed descripion o he lineage o Moshe and Aharon’s amily wihin he ribe o Levi.Upon compleion o his genealogical record, he orah reurns o he narraive o he Exodus wih he words “Tis  was Aharon and Moshe…. Tey were he ones who spoke o Pharaoh…. Tis was Moshe and Aharon.”
Quesions:
Once again we are conroned wih a srange and abrup digression wihin he orah ex. Why does he orah specifically choose his dramaic momen o deail he lineage o Moshe and Aharon?  Why inerrup he hisorical narraive midsream? Tis genealogical able would clearly have been more appropriae a he beginning o he sory, when Moshe is firs inroduced. Amram and Yocheved, he parens o Aharon and Moshe, are menioned here or he firs ime by name. Given he reasons or he omission o heir ideniies when Moshe is born, why does he orah see fi o reveal hose ideniies now?
 Approaches: A.
Mos o he classical commenaries are srangely silen concerning he mos perplexing aspecs o his passage, choosing o commen only briefly.Rashi, or example, saes ha because he orah menions Aharon and Moshe a his ime, he ex eels compelled o ell us more ully o heir birh and lineage. He ails o explain, however, why his inormaion was no given in conjuncion wih he earlier appearances o Moshe and Aharon in he ex.Te Sorno and Abravanel boh mainain ha he genealogical able is presened o show ha he choice o Aharon and Moshe was no arbirary. God begins His search or worhy leadership wih he descendens o  Yaakov’s firs- and second-born, Reuven and Shimon. Only  when He proceeds o Levi, he hird ribe, does God find
 
3
YUTORAH IN PRINT • A PROJECT OF YESHIVA UNIVERSITY’S CENTER FOR THE JEWISH FUTURE
 Va’era 5774
Download thousands of audio shiurim and articles at www.yutorah.org 
he qualiy He is searching or in Moshe and Aharon.Once again, however, neiher o hese scholars explains  why his inormaion mus be shared wih us abruply, a his poin in he ex.Te Malbim, in conras, does offer a soluion concerning he placemen o he genealogical record. He explains ha he passage in Va’eira marks he firs ime ha Moshe and Aharon are clearly appoined by God as ull parners concerning all aspecs o he Exodus. Only once his parnership o brohers is firmly esablished does he orah digress o chronicle heir amilial credenials.Rashi finally noes ha, as he orah closes he genealogical able and reurns o he hisorical narraive, he ex idenifies Moshe and Aharon wice and reverses he order o heir names: “Tis was Aharon and Moshe…. Tey were he ones who spoke o Pharaoh…. Tis was Moshe and Aharon.”Quoing he Mechila, Rashi explains ha, hroughou he ex, he orah will variably lis each broher firs in order o demonsrae ha Aharon and Moshe were equivalen o each oher in greaness.Te premier halachic auhoriy o he wenieh cenury, Rabbi Moshe Feinsein (Reb Moshe), objecs, however, o he Mechila’s explanaion: “Moshe was he greaes o he prophes, he eacher o he world, and he orah was given by his hand. How can i be claimed ha Aharon was his equal?”Reb Moshe answers ha a his juncure in he ex, even as he public leadership o Moshe and Aharon is firmly esablished, he orah conveys an essenial ruh concerning he worh o every human lie. Moshe and  Aharon each ulfilled his personal role o he greaes exen possible. Tey are, hereore, in he eyes o God, considered equal. God judges each o us agains ourselves and no agains anyone else. Someone o lesser abiliy,  who reaches his ull lie poenial, owers over someone o greaer alen who does no – even i, on an objecive scale, he later’s accomplishmens seem grander.
B.
 Te mos exensive reamen o he genealogical passage a he beginning o Parsha Va’eira, however, is offered by Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch. Hirsch insiss ha he placemen o his secion specifically conveys a criical lesson concerning he naure o leadership hroughou he orah. A his momen in he ex, says Hirsch, we conron a major urning poin in he careers o Moshe and Aharon. Unil now, heir effors have been marked by rusraion and ailure. From his poin onward, however, heir riumphal mission – marked by powerul miracles and supernaural evens – begins. Te orah, hereore, eels compelled a his juncure o make one ac abundanly clear or all ime. Moshe and Aharon are o “absoluely human origin and he absolue ordinary human naure o heir beings should be firmly esablished.” So imporan is his message ha he orah abruply inerrups he hisorical narraive midsream o clearly delineae he ancesry o Moshe and Aharon. As we have noed beore, whereas pagans deified heir heroes, and Chrisians reurned o such deificaion,  Judaism insiss upon seeing is heroes as human beings.  When your heroes are gods you can worship hem, bu you canno emulae hem. As long as we see he characers o our orah as human beings, heir greaness may be beyond our reach, bu we can, noneheless, aspire o ha greaness.On he oher hand, Hirsch coninues, a criical balance is sruck in he passage beore us. While he genealogical record clearly esablishes he moral origins o Moshe and  Aharon, i also serves o couner he noion ha every human being is suiable o prophecy. God’s choices are ar rom arbirary. Aharon and Moshe were men, bu hey  were “picked, chosen men.” God could have chosen rom any ribe and any amily. His specific selecion o Aharon and Moshe serves o underscore ha one who serves in a divinely ordained leadership role meris he appoinmen  because o his own innae characer.Te ex hus capures he exquisie ension beween he moral origins o our biblical heroes and heir overarching characer and accomplishmens.

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