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Now, You Shall See

R Pesach Siegel

Parshat Vaera

Dec 27, 2013

The following d'var torah is based on the words of Mori VeRabi Rav Mordechai Gifter, z"l. His yartzeit was yesterday.

Now, You Shall See

Hashem appeared to Moshe Rabeinu. He commanded him to go to Pharaoh and tell him, in His name, to send out His nation so they may serve Him. Pharaoh responded by increasing the severity of their servitude. They must now make bricks and gather their own straw to do so.

Moshe Rabeinu spoke out. He said, “My Master, why did you make matters worse for this people. Why did you send me?”[1]

Hashem responded harshly, “Now, you will see that which I shall do to Pharaoh. You will witness the war waged against Pharaoh, but you shall not see the war against the thirty one kings of Eretz Canaan.” [2]

And Elokim said to Moshe, “I appeared to Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov. I appeared to them with the name “Kel Sha-dai”. I never appeared to them through the name of Havaya (yud, keh, vav, keh). They never asked about the name of Havaya, but you did. You asked me through which name I will redeem my people.”[3]

In His dialogue with Moshe Rabeinu, Hashem switched from the name of Havaya to the name Elokim.[4]

The name Elokim is the name that represents Hashem’s interaction with this world through the mask of nature. The numerical value of the name Elokim is the same as the word “hateva” (the laws of nature).[5] The laws of nature serve to act as a mechitzah, a separation, between the Creator and the residents of this world. We see the handiwork of the Creator but not the Creator Himself. The word “olam” means “hidden. We live in a world where the source of all is hidden.

For one to see behind the veil, one must possess the trait of emunah. Emunah is the ability to see beyond what one witnesses with one’s own limited eye sight. Avrohom Avenu’s study of the known world led him to believe with certainty that there is more to reality than what meets the eye.  He saw the immense wisdom contained within the known world. He saw that mere mortal causes are not capable of creating and sustaining such a wondrous world.

When Hashem reveals Himself through the name of Havaya it becomes clear that he is the constant source of all the matter in creation. The process of creation is an ongoing one. It is a process which is in constant renewal, as we say in our prayers, mechadesh bechol yom tamid ma’aseh breishis.  It is revealed through the open miracles of Hashem. The laws of nature are not to be thought of as independent of Hashem. They are constantly renewed afresh. It is Hashem’s constant wish that “water should be water” that gives water its unique properties. The instant that Hashem wishes it to be otherwise, it can be transformed to blood.

Open miracles are the testimony that nature is not to be separated from the Creator.

The name Havaya is affiliated with the trait of compassion. It is the name that describes Hashem’s overflowing goodness. It is the name of Hashem when he displays His will to bestow goodness and kindness upon the world.

In order to bestow from His goodness upon this world, it is necessary for the Creator to sit in judgment. Although judgment appears to be harsh, G-d’s judgment emanates from His will to bestow goodness.

When G-d’s presence is hidden in this world, His trait of judgment is misunderstood. The harshness of “din” is perceived as coming from anger and vengeance. In reality, one is not seeing the whole picture. One cannot possibly do so when G-d’s presence is hidden.

Thus, the harshness of din and Hashem’s hidden presence go hand in hand.

Let us return to the dialogue between Hashem and Moshe Rabeinu.

Hashem is involved in one thing and one thing only. He is a non-ending source of blessing to the world. Avrohom, Yitzchok, and Yaakov were able to see this despite it being hidden from them.  Any harshness, although not necessarily understood, was viewed as ultimately ending in compassion.  They saw the Havaya from amidst the Elokim.

Moshe Rabinu questioned this. When Hashem first appeared to him, he asked Hashem with which name he is redeeming the Jewish people. This is evidence of a lack of clarity on the part of Moshe Rabeinu. He was viewing the world through the perspective of the name Elokim. His vision was thus limited.

When his first encounter with Pharaoh resulted in failure, Moshe Rabeinu witnessed ”din”. He saw harsh judgment. Hashem’s presence was in a hidden state. He did not understand.

By doing so, Moshe Rabeinu altered his relationship with Hashem. G-d’s compassion “goes into hiding”. One who perceives G-d as a harsh judge relates to G-d as a harsh judge.

And so, Hashem spoke to Moshe Rabeinu with the name Elokim. And G-d judged him. Moshe Rabeinu will bear witness to the war against Pharaoh. He will not merit seeing the war waged against the kings of Canaan. He will not enter Eretz Yisroel in his lifetime.

This decree, as well as all other ones, carried with it the semblance of harshness. It appears as a punishment.

Ultimately, this too, is G-d’s compassion.

[1] Parshas Shmos, perek 5, posuk 22

[2] Meseches Sanhedrin, daf 111

[3] Ramban, Parshas Va’Eira, perek 6, posuk 4

[4] Parshas Va’Eira, perek 6, posuk 2

[5] Ari z”l

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