In this parsha, Moshe understands that his mission is twofold: one is to free the Jewish people physically, (Paroah’s role) the other is to liberate them spiritually (acknowledging G-d.) As G-d hardens Paroah’s heart, the display of Hashem’s spectacular powers grows.
The process begins when Moshe and Aaron approach Paroah and reveal His powers through the miracle of the rod transforming into a serpent. I asked Rabbi Daniel Korobkin if there any significance to the fact that in Parshas Shemot, Hashem offers ‘proof’ of Himself in a similar way that Moshe is instructed to offer proof to Paroah? Rabbi Korobkin’s answer:
The serpent from last week’s parsha is a nachash, which is a land snake, and the serpent shown to Pharaoh is a tanin, which is translated either as sea serpent or crocodile. Hashem doesn’t offer proof of Himself, he offers to Moshe proof to Bnei Yisrael that he is the authentic emissary of Hashem. One of those signs is a serpent. Rashi understands that the miracle of a serpent was used for Moshe to allude to him that he had spoken lashon hara on the Jewish people when he argued that they wouldn’t believe him. The serpent is the symbol for lashon hara, as it was the first creature to speak ill of Hashem. It is used with Pharaoh because Pharaoh had prided himself as being the “sea serpent” who ruled over the Nile.
Inspired by the second instance (Parshat Shemos was the first) of the rod transforming to a snake, Challah snakes (Shemot 7:10) on ‘rods’ are an excellent dish to put out with an appetizer of dips.
Challah Snakes on Rods: (inspired by a recipe from Food.com)
For the pumpernickel Challah:
Place these ingredients in the following order in the breadmaker:
- 1 1/8 cup water
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour (or rye)
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups flour
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast