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Parashat Va’Era

Messages From G-d

Bezalel Naor

Parashat Va’Era

The Torah Portion begins with a statement of God to Moses to the effect that in the past, God was revealed to the forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name “El Shaddai,” but not by the name YHWH (which only in Moses’ time is the mode of divine revelation).
Some of the kabbalists point out an incredible insight: The numerical value of the name “El Shaddai” (345) is exactly the numerical value of “Moshe” (345).
What this gematria or numerical equivalence conveys is that the level of spiritual attainment that the fathers had to strive for, was for Moses a given. It was not something that Moses had to struggle to reach, it was his birthright, so to speak.
The American Jewish community (as well as many other Jewish communities around the globe) have witnessed such a religious progression. Whereas the previous generation had to struggle for such basic observance as kashrut, Shabbat, etc.–all of this has been  handed to us on a gold platter. Today, observance of the dietary laws, for example, is made easy for us. There is an abundance of kosher food. Not much “mesirut nefesh” (self-sacrifice) is required to adhere to the kosher diet.
By the same token, there are spiritual levels that we are struggling to attain, which hopefully by our children’s generation will be a given. Amen!

Freedom Movements

Rabbi Jacob of Izbica (pronounced “Izhbitsa”) writes:
How do we know that we may make use of the “bat kol” (heavenly voice)? For it says, “Your ears will hear a word from behind you” [Isaiah 30:21] (Talmud Bavli, end Tractate Megillah).
The explanation of this is that when the Children of Israel are free men, then the Word proceeds to Israel in a direct fashion, and from them it spreads to the entire world. However in exile, they [i.e., the Children of Israel] hear it only from behind them. When God wishes to send a new influx to Israel, the nations sense this beforehand, and they bond together…and create a tumult…and Israel understand through them which light, which new influx of energy God is busy opening now. So it is now. He who desires to understand the tumult…understands from this that God is busy opening for them a new light that they may be free men. And since Israel do not have an explicit ilumination, just that they figure out on their own based on the opposite’s behavior, it is dubbed a “bat kol” (heavenly voice). And this is what the verse means by “Your ears will hear a word from behind you.” Namely, from the nations, who are referred to as “ahorayim” (the rear). For the desire and quest of the Children of Israel to be free men is the opposite of the nations…
(Rabbi Jacob of Izhbitsa and Radzyn, Beit Ya’akov, end Va’Era)
Over a year ago, I quoted this striking passage from the Izhbitser Rebbe in regard to what was being termed at that time “The Arab Spring.” Today, the civil war in Syria continues, taking a terrible toll of human lives (at last estimate 60,000 dead).
From these upheavals in the surrounding nations, the People of Israel hear a “bat kol” (heavenly voice), an echo of our own quest for freedom and independence, which as the Izhbitser Rebbe goes on to explain in that very passage, is in reality, the quest for greater ability to serve our Creator!
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