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Parshat Va-Era

By: Mrs Michal Porat-Zibman

This week’s Parsha, VaEra, begins with Hashem reassuring Moshe that the Exodus from Egypt is about to take place. Hashem details the various stages of the redemption, stages which we recall to this day in our customs for the Pesach seder: “VeHotzeiti, VeHitzalti, veGa’alti, veLakachti” – “I will take you out, I will save you, I will redeem you, and I will take you.” This idyllic sequence has been a symbol of the exile of Egypt for generations.


It is interesting to note Hashem’s first words in this speech: Before He speaks of the Geula, He says, "Ani Hashem," "I am G-d." Rav Shimshon Refael Hirsch, in his commentary on the Torah, asks why these words reassure to Moshe. The four words used in the Geula process are so beautiful and so specific that we need to ask what additional message G-d has for Moshe and Bnei Yisrael by informing them of His name.


Rav Hirsch explains that with these words, Hashem was instituting a new order in the world. Until now, man could look at history, at the events of the world, as nature taking its course. The events that had occurred in the life of the Jewish people, from the entrance into Egypt and their enslavement there, could be seen as events that took place without intervention by G-d. G-d has not been visible. Now, however, when G-d says "Ani Hashem", He is really saying that a new world order is to take shape. Now Bnei Yisrael and the other nations are to see that whatever happens will not be able to be attributed to happenstance, but rather they will have no doubt that it is Yad Hashem, the hand of G-d, Who is 'pulling the strings' and not just nature.


In the very next pasuk, Hashem goes on to say that He did not reveal His name to the Avot, to the forefathers. Rav Hirsch is perplexed by this as well, for throughout Sefer Bereshit, Hashem’s name is used. How can G-d here say that His name was not revealed to them?


Rav Hirsch answers that often, it takes time to see the Hand of G-d. Sometimes, when we are in the midst of a process, in the midst of developing as a nation, things seem to happen naturally. But if we take a step back and look back on history, we will be able to fully acknowledge "Ani Hashem," that Hashem was controlling everything the entire time. The Avot indeed had a unique connection with G-d, but they lacked the historical perspective of recognition of Ani Hashem. To truly recognize this, says Rav Hirsch, one needs to look back on all of history and see how the Master Plan, created by G-d, has unfolded in the history of Am Yisrael, of the world.


As we spend the next few weeks immersed in the Parshiyot of Mitzrayim, of the slavery of Mitzrayim, and we see so clearly the Yad Hashem that was controlling every part of the situation, this should serve to inspire us and give us strength and encouragement in our times as well. We may not possess that unique relationship that G-d had with the Avot, but we do have something that they did not – and that is history: The ability to look back at history; the ability to study history; and most of all, the ability to learn from history.


We can look at the past thousands of years, hundreds of years, or even decades of the previous century, and learn from the past that it has all been the Hand of G-d.
However difficult a time we may be going through on a national level, we need to but take the historical perspective, hinted by the words "Ani Hashem," to strengthen ourselves with the realization that things do not just happen: it is all part of the Master Plan.




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