Vaeira-Not Just a Magician
“When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, ‘show for yourselves a wonder’ (Exodus 7:9).” The phrase “for yourselves,” seems to be inaccurate. It should have been written, “for me,” for certainly Farrell wanted them to provide a signed for him. Furthermore, one may ask, after Moses and Aaron showed him the wonder of the rod turning into a serpent, and then his magicians did the same, why was it necessary that Pharaoh’s heart be hardened, as it is written, “And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (Exodus 7:13)?” After he had seen the magicians to perform the miracle, his heart did not require further hardening.
But it appears to be quite simple. When a man is experienced in miracles, for God performs a miracle for him at any time, then it is always a source of novelty and wonder in his eyes. Even though God always performs miracles for him, nevertheless he is amazed at them and considers them a great novelty. However, one who performs something remarkable even once through sorcery or the like, then the second time it no longer appears novel at all, since he has himself done so once before.
This is what God said, “When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, ‘Show for yourselves a wonder’,” meaning, perform the kind of wonder that will be marvelous and novel for you too. Then you will know that it is certainly the word of the Lord.
That is why it is written, “And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants (Exodus 7:10).” Whereas concerning the magicians it is written, “And they also did in like manner (7:11),” but it does not say, “before Pharaoh.” The reason is that the casting of the rod of Arian was a great novelty for Pharaoh; he understood that this was the word of the Lord because he saw that even in the eyes of Moses and Aaron it was a novelty. But what was done by the magicians was no novelty, neither for them nor for Pharaoh, for he knew that they were doing this by means of their magic.
Hence it is written, “and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.” It was necessary that his heart be hardened, because he understood that the act of the magicians was insubstantial. (Noam Elimelech, Vaeira)
“Who performs great deeds that are beyond comprehension, miracles and wonders beyond number (Blessings of Shema of the evening).” We live in the age of the truly miraculous. Yet, what may be miraculous for us as adults, is taken for granted by children. Each generation becomes more accustomed to the miracles of modern life. It is essential for us to reconnect to the sense of the miraculous lest we lose our awareness of the constant miracles God performs for us every second of every day. We should pause before reciting this sentence to reflect on miracles large and small in our lives and in the world to reconnect to that sense of the miraculous which was so powerfully experienced by the Children of Israel in the Exodus.