Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Parshat VaEra

Knowing God

Before the Exodus from Egypt, no one seemed to know God.

Pharaoh did not know God: "Who is the Lord that I should heed His voice to let Israel out? I do not know the Lord, neither will I let Israel out" (Shemot 5:2)

Moshe and the children of Israel also did not know God: "Behold I come to the children of Israel, and I say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" (ibid 3:13).

Not even the Avot knew God: "I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yakov as E-l Shaddai, but My name הויה I made not known to them" (ibid 6:2).

Therefore God does a series of acts so that Israel would know Him: "Therefore, say to the children of Israel, 'I am the Lord, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians ... and you will know that I am the Lord" (ibid 6-7).

He also does a series of acts so that Egypt would know Him: "The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch forth My hand over Egypt, and I will take the children of Israel out of their midst" (ibid 7:5).

However, this lesson was taught to them in stages. First Egypt was to learn that: "I am the Lord" (ibid 7:17) - the first three plagues proved that God controls nature. Then they were to learn that: "I am the Lord in the midst of the earth" (ibid 8:18) - the second group of plagues showed that God was active justly in the world. Finally, the Egyptians had to discover that: "there is none like Me in the entire earth" (ibid 9:14) - the final group of plagues showed that God is all powerful and that He cannot be subordinated.

Previously, the world had only experienced God as: "E-l Shaddai" – the Almighty God of creation, i.e. the God who had done mighty deeds in the past. Yet now, God wanted humanity to learn His other name, namely He wanted to renew His relationship with mankind in a way that they had not yet experienced.

The world was to now experience God as "הויה" – the ever present and ever involved God. Humanity was to learn that God is involved in all aspects of the human present and its destiny.

Our relationship with God is still lacking and is to be upgraded in the future: "On that day the Lord will be one and His name will be one" (Zechariah 14:9).


Blogger Moshe Abelesz said...

the god od experience - the avot were gerim in the land, the israelites were to receive the land as a morasha

2:07 PM  

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