Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Va'Era - 5779
When you read about the magic performed by the sorcerers of Pharaoh, do you view them as real acts of supernatural magic, and an ability to manipulate nature? Or, was it some fine motor skills that were acquired by his wise men, and thus, it was nothing more than the sleight of hand that was used as a tool in fooling the ignorant?
For a student of Maimonides’ rational approach to Judaism, there is no question that it was the latter. Yet for others like Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman, known as Nachmanides, the sorcery mentioned was actually real. They note that Hashem, as part of creation, established a system where earthly events are regulated by angels and other heavenly forces. In addition, Hashem set in motion measures for the use of various incantations, with which people could manipulate heavenly forces and override the laws of nature. Thus, notes Nachmanides, the sorcerers of Pharaoh were able to do their wonders.
When reading the commentators on the Paresha, it is important to understand that not all see the events of Vaera in the same way.