Vol 21.06 - Va'eira 3                                              Spanish French Audio  Video

L'iluy Nishmas Shmuel Yaakov ben Moshe Finck, A"H

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Haftorah   Haftorah-in-a-Nutshell


The Haftorah (the prophecy concerning Pharoah and Nevuchadnezzer) and the connection to the Parsha (5741)



1. The establishment of the Haftorah of a Torah portion (Sidra) is “from the aspect of the Parsha” (מענין הפרשה). As is known, in the beginning, the reading of the Haftorah was enacted in place of the reading of the Parsha of that Shabbat. Therefore, it is understood that the Haftorah must be “from the aspect of the Parsha”.

One must understand the Haftorah of our Sidra – Va’eira:

The Haftorah includes two themes (two prophecies to Yechezkel):

  1. The prophecy, “against Pharaoh . . and against all Egypt:” Namely, that G-d will obliterate the land of Egypt.

(So much so that even after “And I will return the captives of Egypt“, it will be a “a lowly kingdom” ())

and that through this – “all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the L-rd”.

  1. The prophecy regarding Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Bavel, that since he battled against Tyre, G-d will give him “reward for his labor” (שכר פעולה) – “the land of Egypt, and he shall carry away its multitude etc.”

This is not straightforward:

  • The first prophecy is indeed “from the theme of the Parsha”. For in Parshat Va’eira it speaks of the Plagues, which G-d brought upon Egypt. Through this, the Egyptians knew that “I am the L-rd”.


  • However, the theme of the second prophecy is that Nebuchadnezzar will be given reward for fighting against Tyre. (Therefore, what is the relevance to the Parsha?)

Even though, his reward was (as aforementioned) that he was given the land of Egypt, nevertheless:

  1. This is just a detail and a secondary aspect (א פרט און אן ענין טפל)
  2. Moreover, handing him the land of Egypt is not “from the theme of the Parsha”. For in the Parsha, it does not speak of giving Egypt to others.

2. The explanation of this is:                      

The inner explanation of “from the theme of the Parsha” is not (just) that the subject mentioned in the Haftorah must be similar to the subject that is spoken about in the Parsha. Rather, it is (mainly) that the Torah-teaching and lesson that one must gain from the Haftorah, must resemble (מעין) the Torah-teaching and lesson that is conveyed in the Parsha.

One could say that every Parsha in Torah (from the word “lesson” (הוראה)) contains a lesson. Therefore, the Haftorah – from the prophets – which further elaborate and explain the aspect of the Torah – conveys this lesson more visibly and in more detail.

This is also the explanation in our case:

The reason that the second prophecy was also established as a portion of the Haftorah, is since the lesson from this,

namely, that Nebuchadnezzar specifically received the land of Egypt as a reward for fighting against Tyre,

is (not a separate independent lesson, but) a part of the outcome of the general lesson of the downfall of Egypt

(Which is mentioned in the beginning of the Haftorah – “from the theme of the Parsha”).

3. Parshat Va’eira comes in continuation to the conclusion of Parsha Shmot, which tells of the claim of the Yidden to Moshe and Aharon. Namely, that through their visiting Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, the hardship of the subjugation became worse than before (and Moshe conveyed this complaint to G-d).

On this, G-d’s answer (in the beginning of our Parsha) was –

“I have also heard the groaning of the Bnei Yisroel, . . and I have remembered My covenant . . I will bring you out . . and I will save you . . I will redeem you . . I will take you . . I will bring etc."

After this, the Ten Plagues began, as is told in the continuation of the Sidra.

It is seemingly not understood:

How was the claim that Moshe and Aharon caused a condition of “he has harmed this people” answered?

The words, “I have also heard the groaning of Bnei Yisroel, etc.” (and therefore,) “I have remembered My covenant”, could have occurred earlier. Moreover, on the contrary, it should have been earlier – immediately when “G-d heard their cry, and G-d remembered His covenant“– while Moshe was still in Midian. Then there would not have been the, “Make the workload heavier“.

From this itself it is understood that the completeness of, “I have remembered . . I will bring you out etc." could only be carried out after Bnei Yisroel had endured the full hardship of the subjugation, until it would be in a manner of “Make the workload heavier“.

4. One of the explanations of this is:

The Galut of Egypt was the preparation and preface to Matan Torah. Among the aspects that Matan Torah accomplished is the innovation of a Mitzvah – from the word attachment and connection (צוותא וחיבור) - the fulfillment of Mitzvot, solely because they are G-d’s Will. Through obeying G-d’s command, the attachment and connection of the person performing the Mitzvah with G-d, the Commander of the Mitzvot (מצווה המצוות), as it were, is accomplished.

This does not just pertain to the Mitzvot which are in the category of Chukim/Statutes (חוקים), which have no reason, and therefore, no place to involve one’s understanding or feeling of one’s being, in its performance.

Rather, it also pertains to the Mishpatim/Laws which “if they were not have been said, it would have been proper to say them”. They must be fulfilled (not because one’s personal intellect obligates them, but rather) since G-d commanded so.

Similarly, this pertains to Torah study. For although the essence and the intellect of the Torah-teaching is understood and is encompassed and grasped in the person’s intellect. This is, however, not an aspect of human intellect, G-d forbid. Rather it is G-d’s Torah. It is G-d’s Wisdom, which is higher than the realm of created beings. It is just that it “travelled and descended” below, so much so that even a person’s intellect can understand it.

(This is why Torah must have the preparation of “blessing the Torah first”- the bitul to the Giver of Torah. For specifically through this bitul, can a person’s intellect have a true grasp (אמת׳ע תפיסא) of Torah (as it is) G-d’s Wisdom).

Therefore, in order that the Yidden prepare themselves to receive the Torah – to be “receptacles” (כלים) to “take” (נעמען) Torah and Mitzvot, they had to first endure the affliction of the Galut (of Egypt). Even to the point of enduring the hardship of the subjugation. For these afflictions effected within the Yidden the bitul of their being (ביטול פון זייער מציאות).

This is as we see in actuality. Namely, that when one has afflictions (יסורים), G-d forbid, he is humbled (צעבראכן ביי זיך), until he loses his feeling of self and being (זיין ישות ומציאות).

This bitul was the receptacle to Matan Torah.

5. Just as there had to be (as a preparation to Matan Torah) the bitul of the Yidden. So too, this had to be manifested in the world. This was the aspect of the plagues in Egypt, and the downfall of Pharaoh the king of Egypt and the emperor (מושל בכיפה) of the entire world.

The Klippah of Pharaoh is – the force of self/ego (תוקף הישות), as he said, “Who is G-d that I should obey his voice”. This is further explained in the Haftorah where Pharaoh said, “My river is my own, and I made myself.”

Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, opposes Matan Torah.

(Which is specifically connected with the bitul of a person’s being, as aforementioned).

Through the Galut and the subjugation of Egypt accomplishing the aspect of bitul among the Yidden, it resulted that it brought the downfall and breaking of the ‘force of being’ (תוקף הישות) of the world. This is the bitul of the Klippah of Pharaoh (and his rulership – his being emperor) and his self/ego (ישות) through the Plagues.

(As is told in the conclusion of the Sidra, that Pharaoh admitted that, “The L-rd is the righteous One, and I and my people are the guilty ones”)

6. This aspect that the Klippah of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, opposes to Matan Torah – is more clearly explained in the Haftorah.

(As aforementioned, that the Haftorah more delineates and explains the lesson of the Sidra).

Regarding the downfall of Egypt, the Haftorah explains two reasons, that are juxtaposed (and in continuation) to one another.

  • Beforehand it states, that the downfall came, “because they have been a prop of reeds to the house of Israel.” This is because “the house of Israel” relied (פארלאזט) on the promised help of the Egyptians. Yet, they did not keep their promise.
  • Immediately after, the verse states,

Therefore, so says . . Behold I will bring the sword over you” and concludes, “Because he said, "The river is mine, and I have made it."

This means that the destruction and downfall of Egypt is because Pharaoh said, "The river is mine, and I have made it."

Seemingly, these two reasons are two separate aspects, yet the prophet binds them into one juxtaposition and continuation, as aforementioned.

Therefore, it is understood that the two calamities (עוולות) of Egypt, are a result of each other, as will be explained.

7. It has been spoken of many times – that even Mishpatim/Laws must be fulfilled, because G-d commanded so.

(The allusion to this is that the Ten Commandments include even simple commands like “do not murder etc.” For even the fulfillment of these simple commands must be fulfilled due to, “I am the L-rd, your G-d”).

 Similarly in our case (in the Haftorah):

The reason that the Egypt became a “prop of reeds to the house of Israel.” – the opposite of their promise –is due to his self/ego, his saying “My river is my own, and I made myself.”

Even this point in the Haftorah is “from the theme of the Parsha” and conveys more visibly, the “aspect of the Parsha”:

We find in the Torah two reasons for the ten Plagues:

  1. As aforementioned, to effect that the “Egyptians shall know that I am the L-rd”
  2. As it states in Parsha Lech (Lecha) – “But also that nation whom they will serve I will judge”. A punishment for “They will enslave them and oppress them”.

One learns from the Haftorah, that the two reasons are dependent upon each other:

Pharaoh’s denying the existence of G-d (as he claimed, “I do not know G-d”) was the reason that caused him to subjugate and hurt the Yidden in the worst manner, which has no place even in human nature (טבע האנושי).

8. This very aspect, that Mitzvot must be fulfilled because they are G-d’s commands, brings one to another conclusion – that ‘the deed is primary’ (המעשה הוא העיקר).

The aspect of the fulfillment of the Mitzvot (by the Patriarchs) before Matan Torah was an Avodah that was due to their own power – the power of created beings (בכח הנבראים). So much so, that it reached their essence – the root of created beings – G-dliness as it is enclothed in Creation and Seder Hishtalshelut (the order or Creation), each world independent, and accordingly, even the (essence) of spirituality and (the essence of) physicality – each one independent.

Each Mitzvah (whose aspect is essentially G-dliness and spirituality) possesses within it a special property which effects a polishing and elevation in spirituality (זיכוך ועילוי) (- in the world, in a person’s intellect and feeling).

This comprised the (Patriarch’s) service in Mitzvot (עבודת המצות) – in the spiritual soul of the person, and in the world. So much so – that they were a vehicle/Merkavah of G-dliness and of the world of Atzilut – a world that is entirely spiritual.

(Although we find, even before Matan Torah, the performance of Mitzvot (by the Patriarchs). Nevertheless, their deed was secondary and an expression (א טפל און אן אויסדרוק) of the spiritual aspect. This is why the deed of the Mitzvot in physicality, at that time, was not so precise in all of its minute details compared to the performance of Mitzvot after Matan Torah).

Whereas after Matan Torah, the fulfillment of Mitzvot was due to the –power of the Creator (בכח הבורא), which is above the differentiation between spirituality and physicality. With this power, a Yid can fulfill the Mitzvah in this manner. For he fulfills them since they are G-d’s commands. Therefore, the main aspect in this is (not so much the intent of the Mitzvot, which is according to the level of each individual, but rather) the actual performance of the Mitzvot. This creates the attachment and connection to G-d - the Commander of the Mitzvot.

(Moreover: the (essential) Will (רצון עצמי) in Mitzvot is without concealment and enclothment in “physical things in physical Mitzvot” (which are not “in the realm of garments and receptacles, at all”) (בגדר לבוש וכלי כלל).

Whereas spiritual things, which are in the realm of being enclothed in “the level of a receptacle” (בבחי׳ כלי) cannot visibly contain the (essential) Supernal Will, which is higher than receptacles and the realm of created beings).

9. Accordingly, one can understand the relation in the theme of the prophecy regarding Nebuchadnezzar‘s reward, with the first prophecy in the Haftorah regarding the downfall of Egypt:

This prophecy, which speaks about the payment of reward to Nebuchadnezzar for fighting Tyre, is seemingly not understood:

By conquering Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar did not intend to fulfill G-d’s Will (that Tyre should be vanquished). Rather, he did this for himself. He wanted to conquer the entire world, to be an emperor. This was especially so regarding conquering Tyre, who was located:

  1. At the coast, and some say
  2. On the way that leads to Egypt or – which was a danger (impediment) to his going to fight against Egypt (which he wanted to conquer).

Why, therefore, did he receive reward?

Therefore, the verse precisely states, “For his deed (פעולתו) wherewith he worked against it”. Here, the thoughts and intents were not so relevant. Rather it was “his labor” – his actual deed.

Since G-d’s Will was, in actuality, carried out through him –

although even if he had not done so, G-d’s Will (that Tyre should be vanquished) would have, in any event, been carried out, through another –

he received reward for this.

10. From this we also have a lesson is Avodat HaShem:

When a Yid receives a favor (געהאט א טובה) from another, he should not make an accounting (חשבון) that the other did not intend to do “me” a favor, but that he did so for his own reasons. Or, that the other person is by nature a kind person (א חסדן) and therefore he deserves no thanks for this favor, since it is, as if he is forced to do so, due to his nature.

The Haftorah teaches us that just as Nebuchadnezzar,

who certainly cared only for himself,

was nevertheless rewarded by G-d

because of his “his deed wherewith he worked against it”,

how much more so does this pertain to a Yid that does a good deed.

For it is probable to say that he did this, not just solely in a manner of “his own deed” (motive) but rather since they are, by nature, bestowers of kindness and merciful, truly also with their hearts (בטבע גומלי חסדים ורחמנים טאקע אויך מיטן הרצן).

11. This also gives an additional reason and intellectual explanation to the saying of the Baal Shem Tov that one must love every Yid, even one who is found at the ends of the earth, and one whom he has never seen:

Every Yid, in whatever condition he may be found, has done many good deeds (like the saying of the Sages, “they are filled with Mitzvot like a pomegranate”). Therefore, since each good deed (and even good thought) has an effect upon the entire world.

As Rambam states:

“(If he performs one Mitzvah), he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others.”

Therefore, it comes out that each Yid receives “deliverance and salvation” from each and every person of Yisroel.

And although, the other person did not think about the good that will come from this, to another. Moreover, certainly not to another who is found at the ends of the earth, whom he has never seen.

Nevertheless, since one has, in actuality, received a goodness (א טובה) – it is “his deed wherewith he worked against it”. This means that he must acknowledge a favor (מכיר טובה), so much so, that he has a feeling of love for each one of Yisroel, in a manner of “Love your fellow as yourself“ (ואהבת לרעך כמוך).

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Va’eira 5727

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