One of the ways in which we show our devotion to G'd and Torah is through the placement of mezuzot throughout our homes. Arlene Groch recently started her own webstore featuring her beautiful mezuzot. Arlene Groch has painted, sculpted, and created jewelry for decades. During the past several years polymer clay has been her chosen medium --- and her passion --- because it is incredibly versatile as well as light-weight and durable. Individual pieces may contain Swarovsky crystals, gold filled or sterling silver wire, or other fine materials. The colors, patterns, textures and forms of jewelry and Mezuzah cases you'll see on this site were created by blending the clays to create unique colors, and/or by painting, sculpting, carving, stamping, silk-screening, texturing, curing, sanding and polishing. The design possibilities are endless, thus fostering experimentation and creativity.
In this week's parsha VA'AERA God tells Moses God's true name, Yud - Hey - Vav - Hey, saying that God had appeared to our ancestors as El Shaddai. God promises Moses that He will bring the people forth from Egypt. The people do not listen to Moses because their spirits have been downtrodden. Moses and Aaron go before Pharaoh. Aaron throws down his rod and it turns into a snake. Pharaoh's magicians do the same, turning their rods into snakes, but Aaron's rod swallows their rods.
With this we begin the story of the Ten Plagues. This portion tells the story of the first seven plagues the story of the last three plagues is told next week. Moses and Aaron meet Pharaoh at the Nile River early in the morning. Aaron strikes the river with his rod and the river turns to blood. All the fish die. This plague is followed in this week's reading by frogs, lice, swarms of flies or wild animals, cattle disease, boils, and a fiery hail. Each time Pharaoh hardens his heart, and refuses to let the Israelites go.
The plagues seem to come in sets of three. The first of each three is preceded by Moses asking Pharaoh to let the people go, with a warning about what is to come. The second is done in front of Pharaoh. The third is done outside Pharaoh's presence. The plagues build up towards a climax, ending next week with the slaying of the firstborns.
For the first number of plagues, the Torah says that Pharaoh hardened his heart or the heart of Pharaoh was hardened. Only after the sixth plague does it say that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. It seems that if someone does the wrong act often enough, it becomes second nature, as if God is doing it.