In Parshas VaEira, Hashem commanded Moshe to first warn Pharaoh about the impending plague. Moshe told Pharaoh that if he refused to free the Jews to serve Hashem, “so said Hashem, ‘In this you shall know that I am Hashem.’ Behold I am going to strike with the staff that is in my hand upon the water that is in the river, and it shall turn to blood.” After warning Pharaoh, Moshe is then commanded, “Tell Aharon, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt…’” Why does Hashem specify that Aharon be the one to initiate the plague? In addition, this pattern is repeated with the next two plagues – Frogs and Lice.

Rashi explains that it was inappropriate for Moshe Rabbeinu to strike the Nile for the plagues of Blood and Frogs. After all, this same river provided refuge for him as a baby.  In the same vein, Moshe Rabbeinu could not strike the sand to bring the plague of Lice. The Egyptian sand protected Moshe when he used it to bury the Egyptian that he killed.  Hashem’s message to Moshe Rabbeinu is clear. Striking the Nile River or the Egyptian sand would show a lack of appreciation for how they had helped him, and such an action would tarnish his hakaras ha’tov. Rather, Aharon should initiate these plagues, since he never benefited from the water or the sand to the same extent.

Rashi’s explanation lends new insight into the dimensions of hakaras ha’tov. Gratitude is not because someone did something for you, but rather if you benefited.  If you benefited from somebody or something, you must show gratitude (from the book N’sivei Or, pg. 165, by Rabbi Nissim Yagen). That’s why it is said by Moshe that he was not allowed to hit the Nile River, and he had to ask Aharon to do it. A river has no feelings and does not care whether Moshe lived or died. But since Moshe benefited from the river, so then he has to have gratitude and he can’t strike it.

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler further explains that it is irrelevant if our beneficiary (e.g., the Nile River) might have been an inanimate object. Our emotional reality is that when we strike something, its value is lowered in our eyes. It becomes inferior and we become superior. If we previously benefited from it, then our midah of hakaras ha’tov certainly diminishes. Moshe’s Divine mandate was to diligently preserve his midah of hakaras ha’tov, since it is so critical for avodas Hashem (service of G-d).


List of People Who Need a R’fuah Sh’leimah (a complete recovery)

Please recite Psalms 20, 30, 88, 121, and 130.


Boris Baruch ben Frecha Frida

Shimshon Shimon ben Mazal

Aharon Mordechai ben Sharon

Yaakov Yisrael Pinchas ben Tovah

Yisachar Dov ben Chayah Brachah

Tinok ben Chanah

Azriel ShemTov ben Brachah Esther

Shmuel Aryeh ben Sarah Rachel

Ronny Tzalach ben Simchah

Shmuel Aryeh ben Sarah Rachel

Moshe ben Devorah

Yehoshua ben Miriam

Yosef ben Leah

Nisan ben Yael

Efrayim Gavriel ben Esther

Chaim Yehudah HaLevi ben Sarah

Refael Meir HaLevi ben Esther

Mordechai ben Evelyn

David Chaim ben Rivkah

Moshe Leib ben Chanah Breindel

Eynav ben Tziporah

Yair ben Sarah

Moshe ben Zlata

Yishai Shimon ben Sigal

Shmuel ben Nazima

Yaakov Yisrael Pinchas ben Tovah

Nissim ben Miriam

Levi ben Malkah

Yigal ben Nina

Arthur Avraham ben Bella Berta

Ezra Refael ben Taoos Miriam

Yosef Chai ben Leah

Shmuel ben Moonavar

Chaim Shaul ben Pessel

Ariel Yehudah ben Esther Victoria


Evon bas Sally

Luna bas Rachel

Malkah bas Miriam

Tovah Yocheved bas Esther Bukas

Ruchamah Perel Malkah Leah bas Chanah Serel

Esther Hadassah bas Devorah

Ronit bas Rivkah

Mahnaz bas Nosrat

Sylia bas Rachel

Karen bas Rachel

Shoshanah Shurah bas Zin

Sonia bas Raya Rachel

Tinok bas Chanah Moriyah

Brachah Chanah bas Sarah

Devorah bas Esther

Batya bas Moonavar

Sarah bas Alizah

Chavah bas Bayla

Bella Berta bas Raya Rachel

Taliah Tanya bas Nina Nekadam

Raya Rachel bas Esther

Alizah Sima bas Sheina Brachah

Rivkah bas Sarah

Rachel bas Yaffah

Mehrnaz bas Malkah Molouk

Gittel Feige bas Miriam Sarah

Sally Ronit bas Taoos Miriam

Masha bas Ansha Beila

Miriam bas Ina Pesya Yocheved

Chanah Elianah bas Naomi

Zoya bas Sarah

Rivkah Sarah bas Alizah

To add names of individuals who need a r’fuah sh’leimah to next week’s T’hilim column, please email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and complete the Google form.