Shemot: Jewish Realism

The implication of Eh-ye Asher Eh-ye.

Aloh Naaleh,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
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The focus of parshat Shemot is the designation of Moshe Rabbeinu as the leader of Klal Yisroel. HaShem charged him with the mission of leading the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage to Sinai for Kabbalat HaTorah, and ultimately on to Eretz Yisroel.

Much of the narrative describes Moshe Rabbeinu's hesitancy to assume the responsibility, until he finally acquiesces. During his negotiations with HaShem, he raises several issues. The second one is as follows: "Moshe said, 'When I come to B'nai Yisroel and say to them, the G-d of your fathers has sent me to you, they will ask me, "What is His name?" What should I say to them?

"G-d said to Moshe, 'Eh-ye Asher Eh-ye. Thus shall you say, "Ehye sent me to you."'"

The phrase can be translated, "I am that I am," or "I will be that I will be."

Rashi's explanation captures the essence of the message. HaShem's presence is immanent in the continuity of
The narrative of the Jewish experience implies the immanence of HaShem's presence.
Israel's historic experience. Were it not for this truism, the very survival of the Jewish people would defy rational explanation.

As Voltaire declared when asked why for all his skepticism he still believed in G-d, he answered, "Had it not been for the miracle of the survival of the Jewish people, I would have given up that belief as well." Voltaire was a realist; that is why he retained his belief. Voltaire's response reflected the implication of Eh-ye Asher Eh-ye; that is, the narrative of the Jewish experience implies the immanence of HaShem's presence.

The establishment of Medinat Yisroel after nineteen hundred years of Galut is a verification of this belief. Today, it contains the largest Jewish population in the world. Although beset by extraordinary challenges and surrounded on all sides by hostile nations, it not only survives, but continues to advance virtually in all spheres of human endeavor. To top it off, it stands proud, courageous and defiant against overwhelming odds. Is this not a miracle? Is it not beyond human comprehension? Is not Voltaire's response as appropriate today as it was in his day? The single answer to the three questions is a resounding "yes."

Thus, living in Israel today represents Jewish realism, as well as the fulfillment of the mission enunciated by HaShem to Moshe Rabbeinu.
Rabbi Dr. Moshe S. Gorelik writes from Jerusalem.

The foregoing commentary was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.