Vaeira 5767 – Pharoah only had Nine Plagues

This week’s parsha features the first seven of the ten makkos (plagues) on the Egyptians. We know that the first plague against the Egyptians was that all of their water turned to blood. Not only the water in the rivers turned to blood, but any water that they had. If there was water in a cup, it turned to blood. The amazing miracle is that the Jews had nice fresh water during the same time that the Egyptians had blood. If the Jew passed his water to the Egyptian, the water would instantly turn to blood. When it was passed back, it would turn back into water. Even if the Jew and the Egyptian drank from the same cup, the Jew would taste water while the Egyptian would taste blood. It was a clear miracle.

There was one exception though. The Midrash tells us that Pharoah’s water did not turn to blood. It remained water. The Midrash explains the reason: because Pharoah brought up Moshe when Moshe was a young boy. Therefore, Hashem needed to reward him. The Midrash says that his reward was that he did not get personally affected by this first plague. Although there were ten plagues on the Egyptians, Pharoah only had nine plagues.

We see an amazing insight from this Midrash. When Pharoah was bringing up Moshe if he had known who Moshe really was, he would have killed him. Actually, as Rashi points out, Pharoah did try to kill Moshe at one point (after Moshe killed the Egyptian taskmaster in last week’s parsha). Pharoah did not go out of his way to give any extra care for Moshe. He merely brought him up like any child would be brought up. We see from here, though, that even an act as small as this is worthy of a huge reward.

If a small act like this was worthy of saving Pharoah from seven days of this awful plague, think of how much reward is in store for someone that serves Hashem and does it with intention. If we do a single mitzvah, the reward is too great to imagine. One example that the Vilna Gaon brings: for every moment that a person avoids Lashon Hara, he or she merits a hidden light that even angels cannot comprehend. Look at what the GRA says: every moment. Every single second that we do not say Lashon Hara we get such a reward.

Many people rush to work to make a few extra dollars each day. If we want the greatest reward, we should rush to learn more Torah and do more mitzvos.

Good Shabbos!
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