Torah Portion: Va’era (I Appeared) Exodus 6:2-9:35
HafTorah: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21
Tonight we read about the beginning of the process of Pharaoh coming to the decision of letting G-d’s people go. We read of seven of the 10 plagues and maybe most importantly, about the revelation of G-d’s Holy Name.
I would like to start with this and see where it takes us tonight. In the first verse of this week’s reading we read where G-d tells Moshe that none of the forefathers knew Him by His completeness shown in His holy name. Rather, they knew Him as El Shadi, a limited name showing only part of who He is. Several interesting things here: to start with, in the last verse of Exodus chapter five we see Moses coming to G-d and questioning Him on why He allowed trouble to fall on the people after he (Moses) had gone to Pharaoh the first time. Following this exchange in Chapter six we see G-d share His holy Name with Moses.
What do you think about this progression of verses? Have you ever trusted G-d or believed G-d for some crisis only to see things seemingly get worse? What can we see here in these verses that might help us.
I think G-d was telling Moses, and us, that He is bigger than we think. His ways are outside of our experience up until that point in time. We do not always know of G-d’s ways until we are on the other side of the problem. So here I think G-d was telling Moses, “I am more than you thought, more than you have considered and I have a plan you are not aware of yet. So to help you, I am going to share with you and My people My Holy Name.”
It is true Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew this word for G-d’s name but they did not understand its completeness. They died in faith, believing G-d, even though they had not and would not see G-d’s promises in their lifetime. (Hebrews 11:13) However, here Moses would see the fulfillment of those promises and grasp the all inclusive, powerful name of the Father.
This point is so important to us today. We are often buffeted by the world and our faith is tested. What do we do now? Do we stand or do we give up? How do we respond when G-d calls on us to build His kingdom?
I read a cute joke this week which is illustrated in this Torah section. Two peasants were talking about their love for the Czar. One said he loved the Czar so much, if he had a horse he would gladly give it to the Czar. If he had a business he would give all his profit to the Czar. The other peasant said, “Well, if you love the Czar so much then I’m sure you would give him those three chickens you have, right? The first man answered, “Oh no! The chickens are real! Let’s see how this story and the Torah relate and what it has to say to us spiritually. Look at Exodus 5:31. Moses went to the people and told them that their redemption had arrived! How did they react? They knelt and fell before G-d. Now look at this weeks section in Exodus 6:7-8. Moses told them that G-d would take them as a nation and be their G-d. How did they react this time? They did not listen to Moses. Why? What happened to once a believer always a believer? Things got worse and they didn’t want to hear it anymore. Why? Maybe they found that freedom isn’t free. Freedom has a price. It is today and it was then, easy to say I believe until our faith calls us to action. Sometimes we then stumble. When problems aren’t immediately solved we might begin to falter in our faith walk.
This is what G-d was trying to relate to them and us with His holy Name. He is G-d of everything, all the time, in every situation. Faith in Him, all of Him, will carry us through and give us the power to walk and not fall, to stand the test and do His will no matter the cost. May it be so for each of us.