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Weekly Chizuk



Adapted from a lecture by Mori v'Rabi Hagaon Hatzaddik Rav Zeidel Epstein' ztzuk"l, תשמ"ט.

And Moshe said to G-d, "Behold I will come to the children of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The G-d of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they will say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" G-d said to Moshe, "Ek-yeh asher Ek-yeh (I will be what I will be)." And He said, "So shall you say to the children of Israel, 'Ek-yeh (I will be) has sent me to you.'" (Shemos 3:13-14)

A simple reading of the possuk raises some questions. There are two statements explaining what Hashem's name is. Why did He have to repeat Himself?

Rashi (quoting Bereishis Raba 9b) appears to be addressing this question:

I will be what I will be: "I will be" with them in this predicament "what I will be" with them in their suppression by other kingdoms. [Then] He [Moshe] said before Him, "O Lord of the universe! Why should I mention to them another trouble? They have enough [difficulty] with this one." Hashem answered him, "You have spoken well. So shall you say, etc."

We see from Rashi, that Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Moshe the meaning of the great Name: that not only is Hashem with them in Mitzrayim, He will be with them in their future oppressions in all the exiles (שעבוד מלכיות). Moshe thereupon became very perturbed. Why mention any other future problems. It was like Hashem was saying, don't worry, there'll be more problems to come.

Then Hashem agreed to Moshe Rabbeinu and told him to only mention that Hashem will be with them and help them depart from Mitzrayim.

There is a parenthesis in Rashi: Not that Moshe, G-d forbid, outsmarted G-d. However, he did not understand what G-d meant. [He thought that Hashem was telling him to relate this to Yisroel.] Really, when G-d said, "I will be what I will be," He told this to Moshe alone, and never intended that Moshe should tell this to Yisroel. That is the meaning of "You have spoken well," for that was My original intention, that you should not tell such things to the children of Israel, only "So shall you say to the children of Israel," 'Ekyeh [I will be] has sent me.'"

According to this annotation, Hashem had always intended that Moshe Rabbeinu should only tell Klal Yisroel about the Yetzias Mitzrayim, and not about any future problems. Hashem told Moshe alone the real meaning of His name so that Moshe himself should know the truth.

However, the explanation of this annotation doesn't seem to fit the possuk. Moshe asked, what should I tell them and Hashem responded regarding the entire future history, not just the part about Mitzrayim. A simple reading doesn't suggest that Hashem's intention was for Moshe Rabbeinu alone to know this secret. The secret of this great Name Ekyeh asher Ekyeh was really meant for the entire Klal Yisroel. Just right now while suffering their tribulations in Mitzrayim they couldn't handle it. But it was written in the Torah for all of us to know. The explanation of the parenthesis doesn't fit the possuk. Moshe was asking what to tell all of Klal Yisroel and it wasn't a question that Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to know personally only. Rather, he wanted to know what to tell Klal Yisroel. Rashi according to the annotation does not fit the possuk.

In order to answer this we must understand the basic purpose of the entire Creation: Hashem wants us to recognize and be vividly aware of Him. That is called Gilui Shechina (Revelation of Hashem's presence), when G-d can be clearly seen. Everyone should see Hashem's presence everywhere in everything. This is the purpose of the entire creation. The creation should announce and publicize אין עוד מלבדו Ein Od Milvado - There is no power other than Hashem! Just by observing how things operate in the world everyone should see that there is a Creator; just one, no other. One who understands, sees everything. And not just only one G-d. There is no other power. Everything in the universe is Hashem. Where ever one looks he should see the handiwork of G-d. When we look up to the heavens, we don't see just the heavens, we see Your heavens.

The entire creation shouts out "there is a Creator." It's like a painting from a famous painter from many years ago. It sells for thousands, because it's so and so's painting. It's an original. The experts look at it and they immediately recognize the painter. His expertise. His special style. It's obviously a Rembrandt or a Van Gough. Look how he wove the colors together and how it is so full of expression. We novices only see some colors.

Handwriting. You go to an analyst and write a few lines. All you see are some pen marks on the paper. It's nothing. But he looks at it and sees everything. This letter goes up, that letter goes down, and he sees your whole personality in those lines. All you see are some scribbles on the paper.

That's the Universe. Everywhere we look it utters: this was made by the Ribono Shel Olam. Before the sin, everything was pure and there was pure Gilui Shechina. Now after the sin, Hashem is hidden. That is called hester - הסתר. We don't see. But in hester there is Gilui Shechina; unending Gilui Shechina. That's our job. To see Shechina everywhere. We must remember that everywhere has the possibility to see Shechina; but it also has the power to cover over the Shechina so that all you see is Nature.

Rav Chaim Shmueleviz, Rosh Yeshiva of the Mir, in Sichos Musar, Parshas Vayechi (תשל"א) writes that this darkness which is intertwined in Hashem's actions has a very important task. Hashem intentionally covers over His presence in everything and created "Nature" in order to allow us free will.

We know Hashem always hides the most wondrous miracles in natural phenomena. They always have the aura about them that they were actually merely natural or near natural phenomena. The miracle of the splitting of the Sea was covered over with nature: "And Hashem moved the water with a strong east wind the entire night…"

This was done to leave some room for mistake. Otherwise, it would be as if free will has been taken away from Mankind. Our job is to reveal the Shechina everywhere we can. We have to remember that nature is merely Hashem's way of giving us room to err.

There is a difficult Ramban. Chazal tell us that Yocheved, Moshe Rabbeinu's mother, was born on the trip down to Mitzrayim. In parshas Vayigash the Ibn Ezra asks, if so, when we make a simple calculation, we see that she was 130 years old when she gave birth to Moshe. Sarah was only 90 years old when she gave birth to Yitzchak and that was considered a miracle. Why wasn't Yocheved's giving birth at the age of 130 mentioned as a miracle? The Ramban then proceeds to enlighten us with a very important principle. Only miracles that are announced in advance by a prophet or a malach (angel) are mentioned in the Torah as miracles. Unannounced miracles that occur to help the tzaddikim are left unmentioned. Even the greatest miracles in which the laws of nature are openly circumvented, if not announced in advance, they go unmentioned. What the Torah calls a miracle is when a navi or a malach comes to tell us that it will happen.

Let us try to elucidate the Ramban's explanation. It fits in beautifully with what we said above. The purpose of a miracle is to make it clear that there is a Creator. There is no other reason for miracles. The Ramban (at the end of parshas Bo) states that all of nature is a miracle. The possuk in Krias Shema tells us that if we follow the Torah the rain will fall in the right time. Isn't that a miracle? And now that we have that possuk, if we don't follow the Torah, and the rain still falls, isn't that a miracle? All of nature is a miracle. But it is a hidden miracle. An open miracle is announced in advance in order to publicize it.

This is the difference between ha'oras panim and gilui Shechina as opposed to hester panim and hester Shechina. Gilui Shechina is to see the Ribono Shel Olam, and hester Shechina is when we don't see the Shechina.

We are used to thinking that when everything goes good and we see the bracha, that is gilui Shechina. But when everything is not good, when one is not healthy, when parnossa is hard, when he has problems, he is not receiving the bracha. That is hester. That is a mistake.

R. Yaakov Emden writes that there is no miracle as great as the existence of Klal Yisroel among the goyim. When Yidden go through all their hardships and still remain alive and remain Yidden that's the greatest miracle. R. Yaakov Emden writes, "We think that gilui Shechina is in ha'oras panim (when everything goes good). But when everything goes bad in hester panim there is no gilui Shechina. I will reveal to you a secret, writes Rav Yaakov Emden. In hester panim there is more gilui Shechina than in gilui Shechina alone. Because when there is hester, and yet the Ribono Shel Olam supports you, that's a miracle. The fact that the poverty stricken person continues living and has a piece of bread to eat is a bigger miracle than the wealthy man's supper. The wealthy person's existence looks normal. He's got money, he has supper. But the poor man's supper is a miracle. When an ill person remains alive and continues living, we see more chessed than by a healthy person.

Let us return to Moshe Rabbeinu by the burning bush. Moshe Rabbeinu asked the Ribono Shel Olam, if Klal Yisroel ask me what Hashem's name is, what should I tell them? His question wasn't simply what Hashem's name is. Moshe Rabbeinu was asking how Hashem was interacting with Klal Yisroel. Hashem's name reflects His interaction with the world: chesed, rachamim, din, etc. Which attribute should I tell Klal Yisroel? Hakadosh Baruch Hu answered, "My name is Gilui Shechina, Ekyeh asher Ekyeh." As Rashi said "I am with them in this trouble, I will be with them in future troubles." This is the greatest Gilui Shechina possible: that Hashem is with us in our most difficult times. That's the most wonderful announcement possible. No matter what goes wrong, Hashem is with us. "Klal Yisroel is with Me, and I am with Klal Yisroel." Chas v'shalom we shouldn't lose sight of this. We have to constantly pay attention. Wherever Klal Yisroel went into galus, the Shechina went first. So Hakadosh Baruch Hu told Moshe Rabbeinu, Ekyeh asher Ekyeh, I'll be with you throughout all the tzoros, because in tzorus there is more Gilui Shechina, Tell Klal Yisroel the secret of Gilui Shechina, Moshe Rabbeinu answered, why should I tell them there will be more tzoros? They won't be able to understand the message that tzoros are the greatest Gilui Shechina. So the Ribono Shel Olam agreed, if they are not capable of accepting this statement for the moment, don't tell them. But Moshe Rabbeinu had to know it. And that's the truth. And now this truth was written in the Torah for us all to know.

The Ribono Shel Olam told Klal Yisroel, there isn't a minute that He doesn't think about Klal Yisroel. Our job is to never forget this. Wherever we mention Hashem's name, that is where bracha is.

Chazal have told us to make 100 brachos each day. Why 100 brachos each day? Because this is 100 times "bestowing His Name." Every time we make a bracha "baruch ato Hashem…" we are declaring, Ribono Shel Olam You are here. You are "the One who gives the tired person strength," "the One who frees a bound up person," "the One who supports those who fall." You, everything is You. You give me a piece of bread to eat. Every time a Jew recites a bracha, he declares, "There is a Borei Olam." The same is true of tefilla. Tefilla means that we recite the idea that "I have nothing, everything belongs to the Creator." When we realize this we are allowing the bracha to come down upon us.

The Rambam states in his 13 Principles of Faith: "I believe with perfect faith that there is none other to whom it is proper to daven." There is nowhere else to ask, only the Ribono Shel Olam.

The avodah of a Yid is שויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד I put Hashem before me constantly. And where do we find that? In the very beginning of the Shulchan Aruch. A person has barely woken up and he says Modeh Ani, he's fulfilling שויתי. And if there's a שויתי then there's a bracha. Mention Hashem's name, and that allows the bracha to flow. But if one doesn't recognize Hashem, if he rattles off the bracha without thinking, then the bracha won't take effect. It even has the opposite effect, it corrupts the world because he is proclaiming hester not gilui. The very first thing he must do is to proclaim, "Ribono Shel Olam, I know that everything that I have is from You."

Gut Shabbos!

© Rabbi Eliezer Parkoff
4 Panim Meirot, Jerusalem 94423 Israel
Tel: 732-858-1257
Rabbi Parkoff is author of "Chizuk!" and "Trust Me!" (Feldheim Publishers), and "Mission Possible!" (Israel Book Shop Lakewood).
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