Tevet 25 5776
The Master Chef At Work
Written by the rabbi
Do not think that the time-honored Jewish custom of complaining ("What?! Such bad food - & such small portions, too!") is a new phenomenon. Moshe was also a complainer; at the end of last week’s Sedra, he grouses to G-d: "Why did You send me? Why do You do evil to Your people? It’s only gotten worse since I went to Paro!"
And G-d answers Moshe in Vaera, most mysteriously: "I am Hashem (Y-H-V-H). I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak & Yakov, but not as Hashem; only as Kel Shadai."
-How does this reply satisfy Moshe’s concerns?
- What is the difference what G-d calls Himself?
- And why does G-d proceed to identify Himself 4 times in the space of just 8 p’sukim as, "Ani Hashem?!"
So let us try to make some sense of this.
The name "Shadai" hearkens back to the beginning of time, when G-d meticulously created the world in exactly the right measure. Like a master chef who puts in just the right amount of seasoning; who cooks it for just the right amount of time at just the right temperature, so G-d prepared the world, perfectly setting in motion the waters, the heavens, the earth; & then said: Dai-Enough!
One of G-d’s favorite "dishes" was that of Redemption for Am Yisrael, & our entrance into our one & only Land. But this dish needed an awful lot of intensive preparation, & though the Avot were continually promised that one day it would indeed be ready for serving, that day was long in coming, & the Avot did not live to see it. That cataclysmic moment was reserved for Moshe.
And here is where the name "Hashem – Y-H-V-H" - comes into play. For that specific name of G-d represents Past, Present & Future. That is, the moment when it all comes together, when all the parts mesh perfectly with one another, when all the ingredients are finally assembled & ready to bring to the table. That is what G-d tells Moshe, who - as a supreme defender of Bnei Yisrael and fighter for justice - is anxious for the suffering & slavery to end, & for the Geula to begin.
"Now," says G-d, "Shadai will recede into the background & Hashem will take center-stage." In rapid succession, we will be freed from slavery, leave Egypt, receive the Torah, build the Mishkan, and go on to eventually enter Eretz Yisrael. The B'rachot, the blessings, flow like a waterfall from the B'recha, the pool, of Divine kindness.
Times are tough for Jews right now; In Israel, & in the Galut. But we don’t despair. We know that Shadai is meticulously preparing a feast, with all the ingredients – the terror attacks, the global anti-Semitism, the chaos in the Middle East, the refugee crisis – as part of the mix. But when Hashem finally serves it up, it will be one truly amazing banquet.
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