Messages from Rabbi Russo

January 8, 2016 - 27 Tevet

Parshat Vaera begins with a moment of prophetic vision and encouragement from God during a difficult time of slavery in Egypt.  Last week we ended in a bad place as Pharaoh denies Moses and Aaron's request to free the Israelites. Instead he decrees that the enslavement will be even more harsh.
Vaera, the name of the parashah, means "appears," as in God appeared to our forefathers. This teaches us about the importance of vision and prophetic vision.  The first line of the parashah draws on another sense, listening and hearing.  We read, "God spoke to Moses and said to him, "'I am the Lord'" (Exodus 6:2)."  Vayidaber, "God spoke," indicates that in order to have vision we must listen for it first.  Attuning ourselves to enable us to hear God can enable us to find greater vision.  
When we are sad or under distress, it can be harder to discern God.  When Moses tells the Israelites that they will be redeemed, the text tells us "they would not listen to Moses because of their shortness of spirit and harsh physical labor" (Exodus 6:9).
This Shabbat, let's try to make time to seek out God, in whatever that means for us, especially when we might be stressed or not feeling well or just down (something that often occurs in the winter months).  One way we seek out God is through prayer and meditation.  Whether you are in shul or not, we can attune ourselves to listen for God.  
Shabbat Shalom.