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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Seeing Through The Eyes Of Faith - Sforno On Parshas Vaera


The most important lesson for me out of this week's Bible reading, Exodus 6:9.

Just before this verse, G-d says to Moses [Moshe], basically: "It's time to get out of Egypt now. Tell the people I'm taking them home to Israel."

When Moshe tells them, the Jews refuse to listen "because of shortness of breath and hard labor."  

If the Torah is trying to tell us that the Jews were distracted and beaten down by slavery, why add the phrase "shortness of breath?" Orthodox Jews believe that in Biblical textual study, there is no such thing as "the author added that for emphasis."

To understand this better, look at the Hebrew. As the commentator Sforno explains, the phrase "mikotzer ruach" ("מִקֹּ֣צֶר ר֔וּחַ") doesn't really mean "from shortness of breath" but rather "from a constricted spirit."

 ".וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר משֶׁ֛ה כֵּ֖ן אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְלֹ֤א שָֽׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֔ה מִקֹּ֣צֶר ר֔וּחַ וּמֵֽעֲבֹדָ֖ה קָשׁה"

A constricted spirit means that the Jews couldn't even IMAGINE they would ever get out of there.


The Sforno says that their lack of ability to conceive of another reality - living as free people in The Promised Land - meant that they didn't fully receive it. Only their children got in.

That was so powerful for me when I read it.

How many times have I thought, "Things will never get better. I'll have to believe it when I see it."

What the Torah is saying is YOU HAVE TO SEE IT FIRST, in your mind's eye.

  • Imagine yourself free from pressing problems.
  • Imagine yourself healthy.
  • Imagine yourself not worrying about money.
  • Imagine yourself in love.
  • Imagine yourself with children.

Whatever you need, you must see the world FIRST through the eyes of faith. Then and only then can it really happen.

All opinions my own.