5 Minute Torah – Va’eira

5 Minute Torah

Va’eira (“And I Appeared”)
Shemot / Exodus 6:1-9:35

G-d spoke to Moshe and said to him, “I am Hashem (יהוה). I appeared (וארא)” to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El Shaddai, but with my Name Hashem (יהוה) I did not make Myself known to them. (Exodus 6:1)

This week’s parasha is the central passage around which the Pesach (Passover) revolves. It contains the Four (or five, depending on how you read it) Expressions of Redemption:

  1. I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt (Exodus 6:6a)
  2. I shall rescue you from their service (Exodus 6:6b)
  3. I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments (Exodus 6:6c)
  4. I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G-d to you. (Exodus 6:7)

And as a reminder, these four expressions correspond to the four cups of wine of the Passover:

  1. Cup of Sanctification
  2. Cup of Judgement
  3. Cup of Redemption
  4. Cup of Praise/Cup of The Kingdom

The interesting thing about this week’s parasha, however, is the apparent contradiction of our opening passage with previous passages. Our passage states matter-of-factly, that Hashem has never revealed His Name (יהוה/YHVH) to anyone until this event. Breisheet (Genesis), however, says differently. Not only is His Name used repeatedly, beginning with the second chapter of Breisheet (Genesis 2:4), Abraham specifically calls on Hashem by Name:

…and he (Abraham) built there an altar to Hashem (יהוה) and invoked Hashem (יהוה) by Name. (Exodus 12:8)

The Hebrew is explicit. It states:

וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהוָֽה

Literally, “And he called on The Name of Hashem (יהוה).” So, how can our text make the claim that “with my Name Hashem (יהוה) I did not make Myself known to them (the Patriarchs)”? How can Hashem say He has not revealed His name to the patriarchs, when the text seems to say otherwise? This is where we have to understand Hebrew thought.

In a nutshell, here is the situation. Scripture tells us that Hashem reveals Himself to those who seek Him. He is a stumbling block to some and a foundation stone to others. His words have to be studied and understood, because His Word(s) separate even the bone from the marrow. In cases such as these, they separate the seeker from the scorner.

Previously Hashem had only revealed Himself to the Patriarchs as El Shaddai. Why? Because He was their provision. El Shaddai, basically means “G-d of Sustenance/Provision.” He had proven His faithful provision to them many times, even to the extreme example of giving Isaac to Abraham on two occasions (remember the Akeidah/binding of Isaac?). However, He had also made covenants and promises to the Patriarchs which were still unfulfilled. Therefore, as Adonai (יהוה), the faithful, covenant-keeping Judge (also in the sense of “Redeemer/Deliverer”) He was finally able to reveal Himself during the time of Moshe. After hundreds of years, the Children of Israel were able to see the revelation of Adonai as the covenant-keeping, faithful Judge they knew Him to be. They were finally able to partake in the promises made to their ancestors hundreds of years prior.

May we never forget that we serve a living G-d, who has revealed Himself to us as both El Shaddai and Adonai (יהוה). We have nothing to lack, and no reason to not know the greatness of our Living and Eternal King.

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