פ’ וארא תשע”ט
Volume 27, Issue 2
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
וארא אל אברהם אל יצחק ואל יעקב…ושמי ה’ לא נודעתי להם
“I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov…and by my name of Hashem, I was not known to them…” (6:3)
This marvelous analysis by my revered rebbe, Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik tz”l, is recorded by his illustrious student, Rav Hershel Schachter, in his volume Peninei HaRav. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim, siman 5) explains that the four-letter name of G-d represents “was, is, and will be” (היה, הוה, ויהיה). Logically, the first letter – yud – is the futire “will be,” as it is in all future verbs for “he will.” The hei is in the past, as found twice in the verb “he was.” The vav is in the present, as in the middle of “he is.”
The most difficult thing for a Jew is to understand G-d in the present, in times of trials, tribulations, or persecution. It is easier to have faith in the future, and to take comfort in our wondrous past history and G-d’s loving vigilance in our ancient days of glory. In the Temple, the kohanim would pronounce His holy name, because they could feel His glorious presence in the majesty and sanctity of the place. So, too, the high priest on Yom Kippur felt G-d’s presence.
The Rav added this insight: The Jews who arrived in America in the early twentieth century also made an error. They planned only for the present, building large synagogues, but forgot to look ahead to the future of their children and grandchildren. Countless thousands were lost to us because they did not immediately build yeshivot for the young generation. Ultimately, Judaism survives throughout the ages because of the visionaries who always have their eyes on the future as we read in Pirkei Avot, “Who is wise? He who sees future consequences.” (Pninei HaRav)
ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם
“I shall take you to Me for a people…”(6:7)
This is the first time that Israel’s future destiny is mentioned. It even precedes the announcement of the possession of a national land. Israel belongs to Hashem even without land or territory. Moreover, the words of this verse reflect the specific character of Judaism, which has often been misunderstood. Israel is the people of Hashem, meaning that Israel is directed, inspired and governed by Hashem in every aspect. Thus, Israel’s relationship with Hashem differs from that of other religious communities wherein G-d is directly encountered only in the place of worship or by priests and ministers. As the prophet Yirmiyahu (7:22) states: For on the day that I brought you out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this I commanded them, saying: ‘Listen to My voice, and I will be your G-d, and you shall be My people’.
While other nations are bound by a common land, Israel’s bond lies in the worship of one G-d. Israel’s national existence is not dependent upon the possession of its land. On the contrary, possession of land is directly dependent on the faithful performance of Israel’s mission as a nation. The land is referred to as morasha, heritage (v. 8) – the land was already given in spirit to our forefathers, and we will receive it only as their heirs. (Rabbi Shimshon Rephael Hirsch)
וידעתם כי אני ה’ אלקיכם
“And you shall know that I am Hashem your G-d…” (6:7)
The Zohar comments that this is the first of all the commandments: to know that there is a G-d, the absolute Master and Creator of the universe. This general concept of the knowledge of Hashem was taught to the people by Moshe at the very start of his mission. All future developments, including the establishment of credibility in Moshe and in his signs and wonders were based upon this knowledge. Only after forty years of conscientiously performing the mitzvot were the people able to attain a deeper knowledge of Hashem. At that time, Moshe taught them in more explicit terms than he used here: Know this day and lay it to your heart, that Hashem is G-d in heaven above and upon the earth beneath; there is none else (Devarim 4:39).
ואני ערל שפתים
“And I have blocked lips…” (6:12)
Moshe Rabbeinu was not able to speak clearly. The Ribono Shel Olam gave him this handicap so that no one would ever say that Bnei Yisrael followed Moshe because of his charisma. Moshe was accepted solely because of the intrinsic truth that he spoke.
כי השפעתו היתה רק משום ששכינה מדברת מתוך גרונו – Moshe Rabbeinu’s tremendous influence was not because of his skilled oratory, the Shechinah Itself spoke through Moshe’s throat. (Drashot HaRan)
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