RABBI WINSTON'S WEEKLY PARSHA PAGE

This weeks Parashas HaShavuah is dedicated in loving memory of our father, Avraham Yosef ben Shmerel, z"l, by his daughters, Tamar Rachel, Yehudit Esther, Malka, and Zisa Sima.

Parshas VaAira

Name That Name

FRIDAY NIGHT:

G-d spoke to Moshe and said to him, "I am G-d. I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Ya'akov as E'l Shadda'i, but with My Name 'Hashem' I did not make myself known to them." (Shemos 6:2)
At the end of last week's parshah, Moshe questioned G-d's approach to redemption. As commanded, Moshe went down to Egypt and stood before the mightiest emperor of that time, and demanded the release of his number one source of slave manpower, the Jewish people. As prophesized, Pharaoh flatly rejected Moshe's "request," and sent Moshe packing instead. However, not prophesized was Pharaoh's reaction to Moshe's request, which resulted in worsening an already intolerable situation.

Thus, Moshe had complained to G-d:

"Why have you sent me? From the time I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your Name he did evil to this people, but you did not rescue Your people." (Shemos 5:23)
In spite of Moshe's good intention, G-d showed no sympathy. Just the opposite! He returned Moshe's criticism with His ownbiting criticism, pointing out that his ancestors, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov, saw less but believed more.

What does this mean, and how does it apply to us today?

What does a Name of G-d represent? We know that it does not represent His Essence, because that is FAR too spiritual to be fit into any human expression. Then what else is there to name?

By way of analogy, we can say that the names that G-d has given to us with which to refer to Him are descriptions of the "footprints" He leaves behind. G-d interacts with creation every single moment of its existence, but in different modes, and each of those modes has a name so that we can know how to respond to G-d, either directly or indirectly.

In Kabbalah, this is another way of referring to the revelations of G-d. The fact that there is good and evil in creation, exile and redemption, means that the revelation of G-d to man is constantly in flux. A miracle is a "banner" for G-d's existence and suffering, especially of the righteous, and especially at the hands of the evil, and hides the existence of G-d from the minds of men.

Thus, as mentioned last week:

All is in the hands of Heaven, except fear of Heaven. (Brochos 33b)
This really means: How clear the reality of G-d is in your life depends upon you, not Heaven. You can either choose to see the hand of G-d in what takes place, or to overlook the role of Heaven in the events of daily life. That is your own free-will choice, and that for which you will be evaluated long after the stage of life has been dismantled and put away forever.

According to the Torah, what should Moshe Rabbeinu's question to G-d really have been?

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SHABBOS DAY:

"Moreover, I have heard the groan of the Children of Israel whom Egypt enslaves, and I have remembered My covenant." (Shemos 6:5)
After all, if Moshe felt the pain of the Jewish people, surely G-d did as well. It was like Shimon and Levi all over again, when they protested to their father about Shechem's treatment of Dinah, as if they cared more for their sister than Ya'akov did for his own daughter!

Instead, perhaps (after all, we ARE talking about the great Moshe Rabbeinu), Moshe should have responded:

"Dear G-d, do I ever feel bad for the Jewish people! I mean, the suffering that they had undergone until I had arrived on the scene had been bad enough. And now, ever since I spoke to Pharaoh, the situation has worsened even beyond anything You ever told me about. And, I have to admit, it hurts me personally to know that I was the one to trigger Pharaoh's latest decrees! But, what can I say, 'All that You do, You do for the good!' I know this is part of the promise You made to redeem Your children, but I can't wait to see how it is going to unfold. I know, things take time. But, being human, it is hard not to be anxious. Nevertheless, to be anxious is one thing, but to doubt Your infinite mercy, and Your willingness to make promises and fulfill them is something altogether different. I'm with You ALL the way!"
Then, when G-d said the following:
"Now you will see what I shall do to Pharaoh, for through a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand will he drive them from his land." (Shemos 6:1)
Moshe could have enjoyed Divine approval for his yiras Shamayim - his fear/seeing of Heaven.

In fact, what does the Name E'l Shadda'i mean? This is not the first time it has appeared in the Torah. Ya'akov referred to It when he sent Yehudah back down to Egypt with Binyomin, to appear before the Viceroy of Egypt (Yosef) in order to replenish their dwindling supply of food:

And may E'l Shadda'i grant you mercy before the man that he may release to you your brother as well as Binyomin. (Bereishis 43:14)
However, to unravel the mystery of this particular Name of G-d, we have only to refer back to an even earlier posuk, at one of the most crucial moments in Jewish history:
When Avram was 99 years old, G-d appeared to Avram and said to him, "I am E'l Shadda'i; walk before Me and be perfect. I will set My covenant between Me and you, and I will increase you most exceedingly." (Bereishis 17:1-2)
What followed was the mitzvah of Bris Milah, and the inauguration of the Jewish people onto a whole new plane of spirituality. More importantly, it was the moment in history that G-d took a partner into His "firm," someone committed enough to do His work on earth. This is what G-d later reiterates:
And G-d said, "Shall I conceal from Avraham what I do . . . For I have loved him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep THE WAY OF G-D . . ."(Bereishis 18:17-19)
And, what IS the way of G-d? That is what the Names of G-d come to teach us, and in this case, it is the Name, E'l Shadda'i, that defines the very nature of the Bris between G-d and the Jewish people, until this VERY day and onward.

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SEUDAH SHLISHIS:

And may E'l Shadda'i grant you mercy before the man that he may release to you your brother as well as Binyomin. (Bereishis 43:14)
Rashi himself explained the intention of Ya'akov's words:
"May He who said to the world, 'Enough!' now declare that my troubles are enough. I have had no rest since my youth; trouble with Lavan, trouble with Eisav, the troubles of Rachel, Dinah, Yosef, Shimon, and now Binyomin!" (Rashi, Bereishis 43:14)
What does it mean that G-d said, 'Enough!' to the world? Enough of what?

In the beginning, at the time of the destruction of the World ofTohu, all the evil descended to the future place of all the worlds. Their future place would be only up until the end of the first six of Yetzirah of today . . . to the place of the bottom FOUR of Yetzirah of now, and in the place of the TEN ofAsiyah of now, which was completely beneath the worlds at the time of the tikun. (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 188)

Prior to the sin, the world was entirely good, because there was a separation between the World of Asiyah and the K'liposof FOURTEEN sefiros. At that time, His holy Light completely filled ALL the worlds. (Ibid., p. 88)

Imagine a building with five departments, each consisting of ten floors - a building of FIFTY floors altogether. On top of the building is a huge water tank, capable of servicing all 50 floors, but willing to supply only those who are fitting to receive the water.

As it turns out, the bottom 14 floors did not pay their previous water bill, and when the time comes to turn the water on, the owner wants to make sure that the water does not reach those delinquent floors. Therefore, he tells the man with his hand on the faucet to begin supplying water, but when he sees the water about to reach the 37th floor from the top, that is, the 14th floor from the bottom, he yells out, "Enough!"

Now, instead of a building, imagine a spiritual structure consisting of 50 levels, within which will exist all of spiritual and physical creation. As the Light of G-d, which begins from the top of the structure makes Its way down through the structure, level-by-level, creation occurs as per G-d's will for that particular level, sub-level, sub-sub-level, etc.

The good news is that every level the Light of G-d fills, it becomes holy. The bad news is that if every level is filled with the Light of G-d, then ALL of creation becomes holy, leaving no place for evil to exist, and therefore, no room within creation for free-will to exist - the very purpose of creation in the first place!

The obvious solution? Do not let the light penetrate all 50 levels of the structure, and leave some places "unholy" so that evil can remain, which is just the absence of G-d's Light. The only question is, how many levels? How many levels should remain void of G-d's holy Light to facilitate the use of free-will by man?

In Hebrew, the word for "enough" is the word "die," spelled: dalet-yud, and it has the gematria of 14. Thus, when G-d said "Enough!" to creation, He simultaneously instructed where the Light was to stop on its journey through the 50 levels: THIRTY-SIX levels from the top, FOURTEEN levels from the bottom.

And thus, the Name "Shadda'i" refers to the fact that, within creation, 14 levels remain void of G-d's holy Light. The only question is, what does that have to do with G-d's criticism of Moshe, and Bris Milah?

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MELAVE MALKAH:

I am G-d, and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt . . . (Shemos 6:6)
Where were the Jewish people enslaved? In Egypt, just as the story says. But, where is Egypt? Northeast Africa, right?

Physically, perhaps, but not spiritually. Spiritually, Egypt resided within those 14 levels devoid of the Light that G-d stopped short of reaching the bottom, for that is the only place where the concept of exile can exist, and oppression of good can be sustained:.

Therefore, they could not remain a moment longer in Egypt, lest theSitra Achra become completely eradicated and free-will become eliminated, the basis for creation. For, Egypt was the chief of all the K'lipos, and if she became destroyed, then so would the Sitra Achra and yetzer hara also have become completely destroyed, and free-will would no longer have existed. For this reason they could not delay. (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 408)
The essence of the Bris, referred to as the "Way of G-d," is to work with G-d in partnership to bring the light of the first 36 levels down to the bottom of the final 14 levels, and eradicate evil. WE are supposed to do that, with G-d's help, of course.

When Ya'akov invoked that Name, he acknowledged that all of his troubles emanated from that dark place within creation, the 14 lightless levels which Egypt epitomized. He was praying to G-d that the light that traveled with his sons be given the proper strength to "illuminate" their path enough to bring about the redemption of his missing sons.

And, when G-d Himself referred to this Name in this week'sparshah, He was telling Moshe Rabbeinu that, in spite of the fact that the Forefathers never had a chance to see the world beyond those 14 levels, they still believed in the day that their descendants would. This itself was indicated by the fact that it was Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh Who had come to bring about the redemption, so why was Moshe still acting as if He was only talking to E'l Shadda'i?

This has a practical application in every generation, and particularly in our times:

The continuation of creation, which is based upon this Yichud, depends upon "Emunas Yisroel," because ever since the sin [of Adam HaRishon, and later, the golden calf], the light of His Shechinah resides only in hiding and through the Jewish people . . . (Sha'arei Leshem, p. 88)
In simple, everyday terms, this means divesting the world of power it does not have. The concept of "yichudim" is very Kabbalistic but very fundamental to the concept of redemption and order within creation. It is the idea of unifying particularsefiros in the spiritual realm, the effect of which is flow of light from the Upper Realm down to our world. Like water extinguishes fire, this light eradicates evil.

The story of Pharaoh is the story of the prototypical anti-Semite, and the story of the exile in Egypt is the story of anti-Semitism at its roots. It happened for one reason only, to push the descendants of Ya'akov away from a world of falsehood, one of false powers and untrue ideas.

Had we seen through it THEN, we wouldn't have had to go through it. If WE see through it NOW, then WE ourselves will not have to go through it.

Have a great Shabbos,
PW

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