Parashat Vaeira (And I appeared) Exodus 6:2-9:35
Haftarah Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
“And HaShem said to Moses, Say to Aaron ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the land; it shall become lice throughout the land of Egypt.” Ex. 8:12
The plague of lice was the third plague and although each plague was unique and contained a special message, in some ways this plague was the most telling. When the number three is referenced to G-d, it speaks about His holiness or uniqueness. Everyone recalls in the book of Isaiah how the seraphim shouted three times “Holy, Holy, Holy is the L-rd of Host…” So why is the plague of lice so unique and how does it speak about the identity of G-d?
One reads that G-d created the lice from the dust of the ground. Dust is very small as were the lice which were created. Although the sorcerers also tried to duplicate this miracle they were not able. They went to Pharaoh and shouted, “It is the finger of
G-d” (see verse 15). What made the sorcerers say such a thing? The answer is small size of the dust that G-d used to create the lice. We know that G-d can create whatever He wants from nothing. He speaks and so it is. When the sorcerers saw the miracle that Moses and Aaron did, they knew it was G-d who had actually done the miracle according to what Moses and Aaron had said.
Size is an important indication of intelligence. As man makes greater technological advances, a direct result of an increase of knowledge, things become smaller. Computers are a great example of this. Computers that once took up large rooms now can be the size of a book and as thin as an envelope. Remember the first mobile phones and how large they were; now cell phones are smaller than the batteries that once powered them.
It is most significant that it was only the plague of lice that caused the sorcerers to cry out, “It is the finger of G-d”. They recognized that their power was limited and its origin was not from the One True G-d. Now confronted with the truth how did the sorcerers respond? Like so many other people who, when G-d reveals Himself to them, they fail to respond properly. Many scholars say that the sorcerers were spared from the plague of lice. Whether this is true or not I do not know.
What I do know is the next time the sorcerers are mentioned is the sixth plague, the plague of boils. It is significant that once again G-d used something very small to make the plague, furnace soot. This time the sorcerers were affected by the plague and could not even stand before Moses to even attempt to duplicate the miracle as they did with the lice but failed. The Scripture points out that they were suffering greatly,
“The sorcerers could not even stand before Moses because of the boil, because the boils were on the sorcerers and on all of Egypt.” Ex. 9:11
This verse does seem to emphasize the fact that this time the sorcerers suffered with all of Egypt. What can one learn from this? One can learn that failing to respond properly to the truth that G-d presents to you will bring about severe adverse consequences in one’s life. When G-d reveals something to you, be quick to respond with faithfulness and receive His blessings and not His curses. This is a simple truth that pays large dividends.
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