Parshat Hashavua – Shemot
By: Rabbi Nissim Mordechai Makor
Verse [1:1] These are the names of the children of Israel
Parshat Hashavua Shemot: R’ Moshe Feinstein points out that Rashi commented that although Hashem had counted Yaakov’s sons during their lifetimes, He counted them again after their lifetimes, He counted them again after their deaths to show His love for them, like the stars which He also counts and calls by name when He brings out and returns them. How does comparing the tribes to stars demonstrate their importance?
We suggest that this comparison alludes to an important lesson concerning free will. Even though Hashem allows humans the freedom to disobey the Torah, the highest level of spiritual one can attain is to understand that when an act is prohibited, that act is virtually impossible for a Jew to do. This explains why certain commandments are given with the expression, you shall be unable.
Really, a Jew should never be able to do anything contrary to Hashem’s commandments. However, if it were actually impossible to disobey Him, what reason would there be to reward us for the times when we do obey Him? Indeed, Hashem gives us freedom of choice precisely to give us the opportunity to ear reward for obeying Him. Thus the highest spiritual level attainable is to understand that we virtually cannot transgress the word of Hashem.
This was the greatness of Yaakov’s sons, who performed all Hashem’s commandments as if they had as much free will in the matter as the stars which possess intellect, but nonetheless have no desire other than to do His will. Thus, Hashem returns the stars with the same names by which He brought them out, since they never tarnish their names with disobedience.
Similarly, throughout their lives Yaakov’s sons never altered their names by falling to lower spiritual levels. The same names they had been given at birth remained dear to Hashem because they continued to live up to them with good deeds all their lives, even during their sojourn in Egypt. Thus HASHEM “returned them” by names and by count just as He had brought out, with their souls at the same high spiritual level.
The VERSE 3:2 says: The Messenger of Hashem appeared to Him in a flame of fire from the midst of the Bush
Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt’l writes that the appearance of the flame in the Burning Bush was not merely a passing phenomenon, for later we see that Hashem is named “the Dweller in the Bush” [Devorim 33:16]. Among the significances of the Bush we may quote Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korach [Shemos RABBAH 2:9]: “To teach you that no place is empty of the Shechinah, even the thorn-bush.” Thus, “All Your works praise You Hashem. They speak the glory of Your majesty. To make known to the sons of man His mighty deeds” [Tehillim 145:10-12]. Moshe emulated the Father Abraham who sought to recognize Hashem from His handiwork in Nature, and he succeeded so well that finally HASHEM corroborated Moshe’s recognition by speaking openly to him exactly as had happened to Abraham [Bereshis 12:1]. Thus “Dweller in the Bush” [Devorim ibid.] means “even in the bush,” among other meanings.
Among all the reasons why Moshe was granted this encounter with the presence of Hashem, one of the chief reasons is because Moshe had desired such an encounter more than any other desire he had ever entertained. “They lead a man in the was that he desires to go” Makos 10b.” Rabbi Miller added to me personally, that the more a person wants the More HASHEM will pull him.
Remove Your Shoes: Verse 3:5
This was required for two reasons.
1] The shoes are soiled with the dust of the earth and therefore should be removed when standing on holy soil.
2] Shoes are a form of pride. Removing the shoes and baring the feet denotes humility [as in II Samuel 15:30, “when David showed penance and wept and he walked barefoot”]. This verse is repeated in Yehoshua 5:15. This serves as an important refutation to the Bible –Critics” that claim that the book of Shemos was composed “long after David”; if as they claim that Yehoshua was composed “long after David”; if as they claim that Yehoshua was composed by an ordinary non-inspired author, then they must admit that the author of the book of Yehoshua is quoting verbatim from Shemos 3:15 contrary to their thesis that none of the sacred book quote from Shemos.
3} “Shoes” represent the body says the “Tikkuny Zohar”
4) The Likutey Moharan teaches us that to be able to perceive Godliness, one must discard his corporeal desires. Then he attains a “heavenly body” from the Garden of Eden.
Anyone who wishes to attain a revelation of Godliness, as Moshe did, must divest himself of all material desires. The body is compared to a shoe because leather, when worked over, becomes very pliable and fit to be shaped and designed into clothing. Yet not always is it purified thoroughly: a smell may still remain. Only those types of leather that have been worked over in the tannery will be purged completely of all smells. So too, there are tzaddikim who have conquered their material desires, making their bodies a fitting receptacle for Godliness. Then there are tzaddikim like Moshe who have worked on themselves even more and shed their physicality completely.
Moses hides his face
The Likutey Halachot tells us that Moshe because he hid his face, he merited to great revelations of Godliness.
A person who is humble “hides” himself from God’s great light. By minimizing himself, he is then able to receive that light! This sequence reflects the original Creation, when God constricted His Presence in order to create the Vacated Space, and then formed all the world all the worlds within that Space.
Even very great tzaddikim must be careful not to look beyond their station and abilities. Adam, the first created by God’s own hand, aspired to what was beyond him. His desire caused him to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.
The Jews in Egypt had fallen to the forty-ninth level of impurity. The lower the level to which people have descended, the greater the tzaddik they need to help them ascend. Therefore, only someone of the caliber of Moshe was able to redeem the Jewish people. But Moshe was very humble and did not consider himself worthy of redeeming the Jewish people, therefore, he said, “Who am I?”
When the Divine anger is present in the world, that anger enters the tzaddik as well. Consequently, he hides himself and refuses to lead the people. At the time of the episode recorded here, due to the prevalence to lead the people.
At the time of the episode recorded here, due to the prevalence of idolatry at that time, Divine anger was anger was present in the world [Exodus 4:14]. “God’s anger burned against Moshe”]. As that anger entered Moshe, Moshe initially refused to redeem the Jews. However, after God revealed His compassion by offering to redeem the Jews, showing that His anger was mitigated, Moshe accepted the mission.
I Will Be Who I Will Be
God’s Holy Name EHeYeH, [I Will Be] has the same numerical value as the word DAM, [blood]. This Name reflects the dynamic of transforming oneself and becoming fully human, instead of living an animalistic existence.
God is always with a person. He is even concealed within the person’s blood, i.e., within his base desires. Thus, whatever level someone is on, as soon as he seeks Godliness, as soon as he prepares himself to change, to “be”, he perceives the presence of God, who supports the dynamic of “I will be.”
‘’You have no need to know My Name. I will be with them in all time of trouble. Tell them that there is a God in heaven, and that he is ready to listen whenever they cry out to Him.
[At first God said, “I will be what I will be” [Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh]. He then said that Moshe should tell the Jewish people, “I will be” sent me to you. The first time the term Ehyeh is doubled, while the second time it is not. God said, “I will be with them during this time of trouble, and also I will be with them during the many persecutions to come.
“Trouble is bad enough when it comes,” replied Moshe. “Why tell the Israelites about the other persecutions that they will endure in the future? Why should I reveal to them about the troubles that they will suffer in their future exile?”
“Well spoken,” said God. “Do not tell them that ‘I will be who I will be’ sent you, which alludes to future exiles, but merely tell them, ‘I will be’ sent you. I did not mean to tell you to reveal future exiles to them, but merely to explain what I will be to them.
“I told you that ‘I will be with you’ [3:12]. You wanted to know what I meant by that. I therefore explained that it means that ‘I will be who I WILL BE’, both in this and in future persecutions. Just as I will rescue them now, so will I rescue then. This is for your information but to them do not mention future persecutions.
‘Furthermore, I will be to them, just as they are to Me. If they open their heats and are charitable, I will also have mercy on them.”