Friday, December 20, 2013

Parsha Perspective

By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey

In this week's Torah reading, we begin the second book of the Torah Shmos (Exodus1:1-6:1) where  Moses makes his dramatic appearance on the Biblical scene. He is forced to flee to Midian and tends the flocks of his father-in-law, Yithro. Then, at the burning bush, comes his first divine revelation.

G-d calls upon this shepherd to go back to Egypt and redeem his people. The mission is nothing less than to face up to the Pharaoh himself and deliver the L-rd's famous stirring message: Let My People Go!

In characteristic humility, Moses is a most reluctant leader. At one point, he asks the Almighty, "Who shall I say sent me? What is Your name?"

The one G-d now gives Moses is puzzling and very mystical "I shall be as I shall be." Strange name for a Supreme Being !

Many commentaries expound on the possible interpretations of this most unusual name. Here is one very powerful explanation.

The significance of this name is that it is posed in the future tense. "I shall be as I shall be." Moses was asking the ultimate existential question – “How do I call You, G-d?”  "What is Your name," means how are You to be identified, known, understood? How can finite, mortal man come to know the Infinite Being?

And G-d's answer is, "I shall be as I shall be" - future tense. You want to know me, Moses? I'm afraid you'll have to wait. We cannot necessarily understand G-d by what has happened in the past. Even In the here and now, when we stare life and its ambiguities in the face, we experience tremendous difficulty in our vain attempts to grasp the Almighty's vision or perceive His vast eternal plan.

To truly understand the Infinite G-d takes infinite patience. One day, somewhere down the line, in the future, He will make Himself known to us. Only then will we come to really know Him and His inscrutable ways. "I shall be as I shall be."

Don't we all ask Moses' question at times? Why is there so much human suffering and pain; so much tzorris to contend with? The many families torn apart literally and figuratively in Israel in the Intifada? Individuals in our own communities who have experienced tragedy in their lives? Why, we cry, why?

So we are told at the very first time G-d spoke to Moses, He said to him up front, "I know you want to understand Me and My ways; but that is impossible -- for now." I shall be as I shall be. One day, you will be able to know Me. Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but one day in the future everything will make sense and everything will be understood. Ultimately, in time, all will be known.

In the meanwhile, we live with faith, trust, hope, and a great deal of patience. And we look forward with eager anticipation to that awesome day when the Almighty's great name will be known and understood, and we will see with our own eyes of flesh that G-d is good and His ways are just. May it be speedily in our day.

(Excerpts from Chabad.org - by Rabbi Yossy Goldman)

May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!

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