Shabbat-Table Talks: Va'era
By: Rabbi Ralph Tawil <firstname.lastname@example.org>
[This week's Table Talks is dedicated in memory of Joseph and Esther
Value: Keeping the “big picture” in mind.
Life is full of details. Precise attention to life’s details is necessary for
accomplishing anything. Yet, attention to details and the routine developed to
accomplish these details, might lead to losing sight of the “big
picture”—your goals and the purpose of your life’s work. Periodically
evaluating whether your routine and details are leading to your goals is a
practice that can help ensure the achievement of your goals.
Background: Moshe’s first attempt at saving Bne Yisrael from
their oppressive slavery ended in a result worse than failure—Bne Yisrael’s
situation became worse. After a heated confrontation with the furious people of
Israel, Moshe complained to God, asking why He had harmed the people by sending
him. God answered that Moshe will see what He will do to Pharaoh. Our perasha
begins with a continuation of this speech. God explained that there would be a
new revelation of His nature. God then gave Moshe a new message to convey to
Text: Shemot 6:2-6:9
God spoke to Moses and
said to him. “I am Hashem. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El
Shaddai, but I did not make Myself known to them by My name Hashem. I also
established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in
which they lived as sojourners. I have now heard the moaning of the Israelites
because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My
covenant. Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am Hashem. 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
you shall know that I, Hashem, am your God who freed you form the labors of the
Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession, I am Hashem.
when Moshe told this to the Israelites, they would not listen to Moshe, from
shortness of breath and hard labor.
Analysis: Hashem’s prophecy to Israel contains the most
concise statement of Israel’s goals for the next stage of its existence. Yet,
Israel ignored Hashem’s words. The people were too busy with their hard work.
Even though Moshe’s words promised deliverance from their work, Israel chose
to disregard the goal, and keep working.
Occasionally, we are so caught up
in what we are doing that we forget to evaluate the big picture of our goals.
Routine triumphs over realizing our goals. Concern with details replaces
striving for our destiny. When we suspect this is happening we must take a step
back and evaluate whether what we are so busy with is really fulfilling all of
Discussion: After reading the section to your Shabbat table,
ask—why do you think that Israel kept on working? Didn’t Moshe just told
them that Hashem was about to save them from working for the Egyptians? (Your
family might answer that Israel did not believe Moshe would succeed. The verse
tells us the answer; they were too impatient and too busy working.)
Does it make sense to be too busy
working as someone else’s slave when you soon will be redeemed?
What do you think is more
important to ‘Am Yisrael, to continue building cities for Pharaoh or to get
the Torah and go to Israel? (Obviously the latter choice.) Why?
Sometimes we get so busy with the
things that we are doing that we forget why we are doing them and what we should
be doing. We can become so busy in getting somewhere and forget why we were
going in the first place.
In school: Sometimes we are so busy getting grades and doing
homework that we forget that school is about thinking, being creative, learning
and loving to learn. Some people are so concerned with making the grade that
they even forget the very important social aspects of school.
In family: Concern with the details of making a living and
accomplishing the many things that must be accomplished in running the family,
that we forget to make time for working on the relationships—the crux of what
family is all about.
In business: We can get so used to producing our item that we do
not stop to ask whether the item should be produced at all.
In Community: What are we trying to achieve as a community? What
are our goals, are we coming close to achieving them? Do we need goals at all or
should we just keep on going just trying to survive? What does “survive”
mean—Physical, spiritual, cultural survival?
In the Israel: We are so caught up with dealing with our survival,
that we forget to ask what is that we are meant to accomplish as a people. Is
the purpose of having a state, just to have a state?
Danger signs: (when to suspect that you are ignoring something
that you should be doing because of concern with other, less important things.)
What to do:
Ask your family what can be done
to rectify this situation.
To read last year's Table Talk on Va'era click here.
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