D'vrei Torah by Rabbi Ellie Shemtov
Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell the storm how big your God is!
We all set goals for ourselves. We all have dreams we’d like to fulfill. On the other hand, we also know and expect that the road towards achieving those goals and dreams will be met with obstacles. We can view those obstacles as signs we will not achieve our goal and then complain how difficult it is to overcome the storm in our way. Or we can view them as an opportunity to grow and loudly declare --big storm or not—our faith is bigger and will not allow us to be deterred.
In this week’s Torah portion Vaera, God directs Moses and his brother Aaron to make an appearance before Pharaoh and convince him to let the Israelites leave Egypt. This is not the first time the brothers have visited Pharaoh. In a previous encounter with the Egyptian king they not only fail to convince him to let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh then punishes the Israelites because of the brothers’ efforts. Not happy with Moses and Aaron the Israelites blame them for their troubles and refuse to listen to Moses’ tale of God’s promise. Not surprisingly, Moses is hesitant to try again. After all, הֵן בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא־שָֽׁמְעוּ אֵלַי וְאֵיךְ יִשְׁמָעֵנִי פַרְעֹה, if the Israelites won’t listen to me why should Pharaoh. (Ex. 6:12)
In the end Moses and Aaron don’t give up. They go back to Pharaoh and with the unleashing of the plagues display the enormity of God’s power. In other words, instead of complaining to God how difficult their task is – how big their storm is, they instead tell the storm in the guise of Pharaoh, how big and powerful is their God. As we shall see in next week’s portion, this strategy will be the more successful approach.