top of page
  • Writer's pictureEve Was Right

14. Maybe God Wants Us to Challenge Him

Updated: Apr 8

Parshah Va'eira


TL;DR of the Text

Major Themes

  • What type of relationship does God want with us?

  • Can we judge people for their indifference?

  • Ideas vs. Execution

  • Does magic exist?

  • Insincere repentance


*Important attribution note: All quotes listed in this article are credited to the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash. Here is an Extremely Clear Citation so I don’t get in trouble: Nosson Scherman, Hersh Goldwurm, Avie Gold, & Meir Zlotowitz. (2015). The Chumash: the Torah, Haftaros and Five Megillos. Mesorah Publications, Ltd.


Exodus 6:2-3*

“God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am Hashem. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but with My Name Hashem I did not make Myself known to them.’”

God used the name El Shaddai to refer to God as God of nature, whereas Hashem is God in His highest manifestation. Moses merited the highest level of God’s revelation because he challenged God and demonstrated independent thought.


Moses merited the highest level of God’s revelation because he challenged God and demonstrated independent thought.

Exodus 6:8-9*

“‘I shall give [the land] to you as a heritage - I am Hashem.’ So Moses spoke accordingly to the Children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of shortness of breath and hard work.”

Israel couldn’t bother with Moses’ news of impending salvation because they had bigger worries. Questions of survival and physical hardship occupied their entire lives. We can draw a lot of comparisons between then and now. 


Given the crushing difficulty of modern life, I try to keep this passage in mind before passing judgment on anyone who is materially struggling. The sheer amount of effort required for survival in late-stage capitalism leaves very little energy for anything else. Before someone can care about the environment, they must first have the free time, safety, mental energy, and financial stability to care about the environment.


Before someone can care about the environment, they must first have the free time, safety, mental energy, and financial stability to care about the environment.

Exodus 6:29-7:1*

“Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I am Hashem. Speak to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, everything that I speak to you.’ Moses said before Hashem, ‘Behold! I have sealed lips, so how shall Pharaoh heed me?’

Hashem said to Moses, ‘...Aaron your brother shall be your spokesman.’”

Shia LaBeouf saying Just do it

In Moses and Aaron, God appointed one person to understand and one to execute. We’re told God only appointed Aaron because Moses shot himself in the foot with self-doubt and refused to believe he could do both, but this is often the case. The idea person often experiences a crisis of self-esteem, leading them to believe they lack the ability to execute.





Exodus 7:3-4*

“But I shall harden Pharaoh’s heart and I shall multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh will not heed you.” 

God reinforced Pharaoh’s heart to defend it against outside influence, allowing Pharaoh’s decisions to hew closer to his true nature. No one forced Pharaoh to keep the Israelites in Egypt; God simply offered Pharaoh the courage to enact his true intentions.


Exodus 7:8-12*

“Hashem said to Moses and Aaron, saying: ‘When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, “Provide a wonder for yourselves,” you shall say to Aaron, “Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh - it will become a snake!”’

Moses came with Aaron to Pharaoh and they did so, as Hashem commanded; Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a snake. Pharaoh, too, summoned his wise men and sorcerers, and they, too - the necromancers of Egypt - did so with their incantations. Each one cast down his staff and they became snakes; and the staff of Aaron swallowed their staffs.”

As the magical epicenter of the ancient world, ancient Egypt profoundly impacted Western occultism. Originating in Egypt, Hermeticism comprised one of the two roots for all of Western esoteric thought. The other is Kabbalah - go figure.


Judaism does not dispute the existence of magic. Our problem with magic is not that it doesn’t exist, but rather that practicing it is immoral in most cases. Considering how little we understand of this world and ourselves, any attempt to manipulate natural forces to our benefit will always carry a great risk of messing shit up. 


“Practicing magic” means spending energy to manipulate invisible forces instead of spending energy to create tangible positive changes in the world. 9.9999 times out of 10, you’ll get far greater ROI when focusing on physical changes instead of energetic ones.  


9.9999 times out of 10, you’ll get far greater ROI when focusing on physical changes instead of energetic ones.

Meditation offers an excellent example. Meditation could be considered an energetic change, but it’s primarily a physical one. When adopting a meditation practice, you adopt dedicated quiet time with yourself daily, a concrete check-in on your emotional state, several minutes of deep breathing and good posture, and the active (dare we say physical) practice of noticing thoughts.


Exodus 8:11

“Pharaoh saw that there had been a relief, and kept making his heart stubborn. He did not heed them, as Hashem had spoken.”

God’s promise to harden Pharaoh’s heart still required him to actively pursue stubbornness. Pharaoh chose the path after God allowed for the conditions. 


We often see this behavior today as well. How often do we commit to improving ourselves after a harrowing experience, only to regress to our old ways once the hardship passes?


*Again with the Extremely Clear Citation so I don’t get in trouble: Nosson Scherman, Hersh Goldwurm, Avie Gold, & Meir Zlotowitz. (2015). The Chumash : the Torah, Haftaros and Five Megillos. Mesorah Publications, Ltd.

Comments


bottom of page