Torah Portion: Va’era (And I Appeared)(Sh’mot) Exodus 6:2-9:35
Haftorah Reading: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Tonight we read seven of the ten plagues that G-d brought upon the Egyptians and Pharaoh. We also read, at the beginning of the portion, the introduction of His name to Moshe and the Jewish people. I want us to spend some time on this but first I would like to look at a few other points that I think speak to us in our world today.
The plagues brought on Egypt were to do what? The obvious answer is they were to bring about the release of the Jewish people from slavery. However, there was another reason that was much more far reaching. In Exodus 7:5 we read where G-d tells Moshe that the main reason is that they will know that He is the L-rd. Up until that time Egypt had a large pantheon of gods with Pharaoh standing at the top of the list. We see in Pharaoh’s answer to Moshe in Exodus 5:2 from last week, his initial answer to Moshe when first meeting Moshe and Aaron, “I do not know the L-rd.” From this answer we can see Pharaoh not only did not know G-d but did not even consider the subject. He was indifferent to the fact. He was not an atheist, no, he just did not care, it did not enter his realm of possibilities.
In Exodus 9:16 we read where not only will G-d’s Name be known in Egypt but in the whole earth. As I read this I thought of each of us. Our purpose in this world is that G-d’s name will be known in the whole earth. Our role in G-d’s plan is that the world would be redeemed through the knowing of who He is. Of course we may not be around to see this in our life time. Never the less it is something each of us must be actively involved in. How do we do this? I think as we go through every day the Father gives us opportunities to make a difference and not just be a spectator or be indifferent to those opportunities.
In Exodus 6:9 we read where the people did not heed what Moshe said about the coming redemption. Why? As we have talked about before, the Hebrew word Ketzer ruach or shortness of spirit, meant they were beaten down. They had lost hope. Their children had been taken from them. They lived their life at the whim of Pharaoh.
People have a hard time hearing when they are hungry, beaten down. In Isaiah 58:6 G-d gives us His perspective of what we are to be about. In the New Testament we read over and over where Yeshua was involved in touching the poor, hungry and sick. So should we be. Then we can speak to them about the love of G-d when they see that love played out in our own lives.
My question this week had to do with the verse Exodus 6:3 where we read two of the names of G-d. One name is El Shaddi and the other is Yod Hay Vav Hey, usually writing in English as L-rd. My question was what was the difference between the two?
El Shaddi literally means G-d Almighty. The word “Shaddi” has at its root the Hebrew word for breast. Think of a mother and her baby. She is focused on feeding, nurturing and caring for her baby. So G-d is with us. He is focused on our well being. So here G-d is telling Moshe that this is how the patriarchs knew Him. They trusted Him in His care for them and always knew He was with them.
However, here Moshe is speaking to people who had a hard time relating to G-d in such a way. They were Ketzer Ruach. So G-d goes deeper with Moshe and shares His over arching name. Yod Hay Vav Hay. What is significant in this name: First it is made up of the three tenses of “to be”, I was, I am, I will be. G-d, through this Name, is telling the people even though you might not have known it I was, I am and I always will be with you. Further than that He was also telling them in this Name, was wrapped up all of Him, more than their mind could grasp. He was everything, nothing was outside of Him. He was not threatened by their doubts and questions. He had suffered with them and now had come their time of redemption. In Exodus 6:6-7 we see G-d set out the steps of our own lives in relation to Him. 1. I will bring you out. 2. I will rescue you from bondage. 3. I will redeem you and 4. I will take you as My people.
G-d does this for us. He is our everything. He is always with us. May each of us experience Him in our lives and use that experience to relieve the Ketzer Ruach of people who come into our lives.