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Moses followed G-d's call to return to Egypt from his refuge in Midian, in order to lead the Exodus. He performed the signs G-d taught him to establish his credentials before the Israelite elders. And in consequence:
The people believed. They understood that G-d had remembered the Israelites and that He saw their affliction. They bowed their heads and prostrated themselves (4:31).
The Hebrew word 'pakad' is used here for G-d's having 'remembered' the Israelites. This word occurs frequently from the last verses of the previous Parasha through this one. It is used in G-d's 'letter of introduction' for Moses to the Israelite elders on his return to Egypt from Midian: I have surely remembered you' is 'pakod pakadeti etchem' (3:16). Similar words were also included in the final recorded sentence of Joseph to the 'children of Israel' before he died: 'May G-d 'pakod yifkod etchem' (Gen. 50:25), which, according to the above translation, means 'may G-d remember you'. Indeed commentators understand that phrase as a password, something that was passed from Joseph though his brothers to generation after generation of elders - namely that G-d would announce His redemption of the Israelites in that 'code' - 'pakod pakadeti etchem'.
The Ramban's rendering of that word gives it a deeper meaning. 'Pakad' does not merely mean to count or remember, but to show concern, to take heed of other people - as in the sentence: 'they understood that G-d had remembered the Israelites and that He saw their affliction' (4:31).
In addition, it may be suggested that the word pakad means that the Israelites had been 'remembered' because they showed themselves worthy.
That concept may be illustrated by viewing the current situation in southern Israel.
In recent years, hundreds of modern and highly sophisticated lethal missiles have been targeted by the Hamas militants into southern Israel - Sederot, Ashkelon, Beersheba and dozens of smaller settlements within a widening firing range of Gaza. Few achieved their fatal purpose. Despite the hardships and personal tragedies of the current situation, miracles have been noted or at least implied by Israeli newspapers of all shades of opinion. Namely, the overwhelming majority of those extremely powerful missiles defied the laws of probability statistics, by falling in open spaces or between buildings - in very densely populated areas.
That may be seen as G-d's 'remembering' the Israelites of today. It is His sign for the people of today that He is here, taking heed of His people.
But the challenge is whether the Israelites will believe.
G-d sends His sign. In Moses' day it was the signs of the stick turning into a snake, the sudden appearance and disappearance of leprosy, and water turning into blood. The people could have dismissed Moses as a mere conjuror in a land where magic spells were a way of life (c.f. 7:11). But instead, they believed: they had shown themselves worthy of being 'remembered'. Thus Joseph's telling his extended family 'pakod yifkod etchem' meant that they should be worthy of perceiving G-d when He appears to them. They did: 'they understood that G-d had remembered the Israelites and that He saw their affliction' - and that was the merit in which they were worthy of further divine intervention in their favor. G-d sends His sign. In our day it is the missiles falling short of their target. Our challenge is to recognize that G-d is taking heed of His People and to do the equivalent of 'bowing and prostrating oneself' - seeing His Hand in the situation, and focusing on keeping mitzvot to G-d and to other people with greater diligence. In that way the people today make themselves worthy of his continuing to be with us, towards the full deliverance of the messianic era…
For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/questions/ and on the material on the Haftara at http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/haftara/ .
Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.
Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site: http://www.shemayisrael.com/parsha/solomon/archives/archives.htm
Also by Jacob Solomon:
This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
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