Thursday, December 30, 2010

Parashat Va'era (Sefer Shmot - Exodus)

Kikar HaMeginim in Zfat (Safed)

Photo: Miriam Woelke


The Chatam Sofer has an interesting commentary on why G – d appeared to the Patriarchs under a different name than to Moshe.

Tha Ramban (Nachmanides) notes that G – d appeared to the Patriarchs as the G – d who performs great deeds within the natural order, while to Moshe He performed extraordinary miracles. He reveals Himself as G – d performing supernatural wonders.
Why then did Moshe merit to witness and perform supernatural miracles of which had never been experienced by the Patriarchs ?

Maybe because Moshe’s generation which had assimilated in Egypt’s 49 Gates of Impurity, desperately needed extraordinary measures to imbue the concept of Emunah in their souls. The Patriarchs, on the other hand, had realized the significance of G – d’s name (Yud – Heh – Vav – Heh) and knew His ability to perform supernatural wonders. 

Furthermore, Moshe merited to perform miracles associated with the Name Yud – Heh – Vav – Heh because of his willingness to act as the Jewish people’s emissary and complain, if necessary, to G – d about the harsh conditions. The Patriarchs, acting on behalf of themselves rather than the community, could only merit “E – l Sha – dd – a – i” through which natural events occur.

The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson commentated that the Patriarchs are associated with emotional qualities. This doesn’t mean that they weren’t involved in Torah studies ! Conversely, Moshe is associated with the intellect. Meaning that he displayed an emotional commitment to divine service and to his fellow men.
Patriarchs and Moshe alike manifested the full range of human intellectual and emotional attributes, each had their own fundamental thrust. Moshe’s thrust was CHOCHMAH – WISDOM. 

Moshe was on a higher spiritual level than the Patriarchs. The mission with which he was charged required reason and intellect and therefore he asked questions. For intellect seeks to understand everything with which it comes into contact. When an intellectual encounters something that appears to defy explanation, he has difficulty in continuing with his mission. Moshe’s questioning didn’t reflect a lack of faith but he asked in order to continue his life mission. 

One of the conclusions we can draw from the whole name issue (why G – d used different names when He appeared to the Patriarchs and when he appeared to Moshe): Every person has his mission in life ! Many times we don’t even know our mission and I can imagine that many of us fulfill their individual mission without even realizing it. Nevertheless, there is no reason for the Patriarchs to be jealous of Moshe because they had their own mission in life and, in order to fulfil it, G – d provided them with all the necessary tools. Moshe, on the other hand, had a different mission and thus, received different tools.

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