The Torah portion of Va’eira recounts the plagues that G-d inflicted on the Egyptians. Most lasted one week, with the exceptions of the plague of darkness and the slaying of the firstborn.
Rashi, the foremost Torah commentator, provides the timetable: In general, each plague occupied a period of one month. The first week was the plague itself, followed by three weeks during which Moses repeatedly warned Pharaoh about the plague to come.
At first glance, this categorization seems odd. Wouldn’t the three weeks of warning belong to the next plague, rather than the one which preceded it? No, Rashi insists, the three weeks in which Moses admonished Pharaoh and forewarned him about the coming plague relate to the plague that was already visited upon the Egyptians.
Here we see the deeper significance of Moses’ actions: In warning Pharaoh, Moses’ intention was not merely to prepare him for the next round of punishment, but to “break” him. The whole purpose of the Ten Plagues was to shatter Pharaoh’s arrogance, to intimidate him. In fact, the warning phase that followed each plague was an integral part of this process.
By reprimanding Pharaoh immediately upon the completion of each plague, the fear and damage inflicted by that plague was intensified manifold. With each warning, Pharaoh came that much closer to being “broken.”
The Torah relates that even before the plagues began, Moses was sent before Pharaoh and his magicians to perform the miracle in which his staff turned into a serpent. The very next day, with the impression still fresh in Pharaoh’s mind, Moses warned him about the plague of blood.
Concerning this mission, G-d commanded Moses, “The staff that turned into a snake, you shall take in your hand” – thereby emphasizing the connection between the miracle and Moses’ words of admonition. With Pharaoh still under the influence of what he had witnessed, Moses’ warning made the miracle seem that much more wondrous.
Pharaoh is symbolic of the obstacles a Jew encounters in his service of G-d; the plagues represent his efforts to wage war against them. Applying the above principle to our lives we see that it’s not enough to “attack” these impediments; we must “break” them completely until total victory is attained.
Chasidut explains that this desire to prevail is deeply rooted in the soul. And just as a king will spend vast amounts of money to be victorious in war, G-d opens His “treasury” and grant the Jewish people storehouses of strengths.
We, the generation of the “footsteps of Moshiach,” are particularly equipped with the strength to overcome difficulties. And by standing strong we will attain the ultimate victory of all: the Final Redemption with Moshiach NOW!!!.