By Rabbi Heshy Grossman
"VaYidaber Elokim El Moshe, VaYomer Eilav, Ani Hashem"
"VaEra El Avraham, El Yitzchak, V'El Ya'akov, B'E-l Shad-dai, U'Shmi Hashem
Lo Nodati Lahem." (Shmos, 6:2-3)
Hashem issues a rebuke to Moshe Rabbeinu. The forefathers never witnessed
true revelation. Their prophecy was through the name 'Shad-dai', the trait
by which G-d controls the forces of nature, the heavens and stars that
determine the flow of worldly affairs. They discover that reward and
punishment are due to Divine providence, with no deed unrecorded. Moshe
Rabbeinu, on the other hand, is party to the unveiling of the secrets of
existence, and through his staff, all of nature is revealed as a mere mask.
The miracles that he performs shatter all of man's conceptions, and the
physical universe is revealed as an ephemeral and fleeting dimension,
devoid of true substance. He sees the ineffable Name, the essence of His
relationship with the world.
Could it be that Moshe Rabbeinu is greater than the Avos? How can he
produce miracles on a level higher than anything they had ever seen?
In our shiur this week we will explain why seeing is not believing.
"HaKadosh Baruch Hu said to Moshe: It is a pity, those who are gone and not
to be found. Many times, I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov as
E-l Shad-dai, and I never made known to them that my name is Hashem, as I
have to you. Yet, they never had complaints regarding my Midos.....and
never asked what is My Name, as you have."
"And you, at the very start of your task you asked for My Name, and at the
end you said: 'from the moment I came before Pharoh [to speak in Your Name
things became worse for this nation..]'...." (Midrash Rabbah, 6:4)
Avraham Avinu is the father of all faith.
Faith, or Emunah, is not what society commonly refers to as belief in G-d.
Knowing that there is a G-d above does not mean that one has faith. In
fact, today, it is quite common for one spouse to believe, while their
partner is atheistic. This is because no one expects belief in G-d to
impact on one's consciousness or interests.
In other words, I may believe in a higher entity somewhere up there, and
you may think that life is a black hole. Someday, we'll find out who is
right, but, in the meantime, we have other things to worry about, such as:
What's for supper? Did the Yankees win? What channel should we watch
True faith is something more.
What defines a faithful person?
If a trustworthy man asks to borrow a huge amount of money, I would be
willing to place all my savings in his hand, confident that he is good for
his word. If the borrower is not as reliable, I will hesitate and ask for
reassurance, lacking faith in his promise to repay.
Some time ago, I noticed this:
Before going to sleep, my nine-year old daughter, Shayna, asked if I would
go to the store and buy a box of Cheerios. I promised that I would do so,
and she went to sleep quite happily, fully certain that when she awoke the
next morning her treasured cereal would be waiting.
To her, a father's word is as good as done.
This is faith.
A child believes that her parents will provide for all her needs, trusting
a mere promise that has yet to be fulfilled.
One's parents are the emissaries of G-d, intermediaries between earth and a
higher source. For this reason, the relationship of a child to his parents
is a critical factor in religious development. If this natural trust is
shattered, and the child has no one to believe in, his faith in G-d is
likewise disabled, and he questions: I want to see it, then I'll believe!
Or: How do I know He'll come through?
Chazal taught this idea in the following way:
"Rebbe Yochanan spoke: G-d is destined to bring precious stones and
diamonds measuring thirty Amos by thirty, and carve out an archway of ten
Amos by twenty, and place them in the gates of Yerushalayim."
"A certain student laughed at him. We cannot find diamonds the size of
chicken eggs, can we really find stones that size?"
"A while later, that same student traveled by boat on the sea. He saw the
heavenly angels chopping stones and diamonds that were thirty Amos by
thirty, and carving out a hole ten by twenty."
He asked: Who are these stones for?"
They told him: Hashem is destined to place them in the gates of Yerushalayim."
"He came before Rebbe Yochanan: Rebbe, speak! For you, it is right to
speak. Exactly as you said it, that is what I saw."
"Empty fool! Had you not seen it, you wouldn't have believed? You are
mocking the words of the Sages!...." (Bava Basra 75a)
What was this student's crime? Certainly, seeing physical verification can
only enhance one's grasp of the truth, guaranteeing that he will accept all
of his Rebbe's teachings in the future.
The answer is this: once a man of faith understands the truth, he doesn't
need to see it happen.
Here's an example: If a man writes a dramatic screenplay, complete with
narrative and cast of characters, does he need to watch the movie in order
to know what happens? Isn't the story already over even before the show
Avraham Avinu is the man of perfect faith. In his youth, he recognizes the
truth, meriting the prophetic vision that pledges all of eternity to he and
Why should he need to see this actually occur? In his world of a higher
dimension, the end is already here, it is only this physical world that has
yet to bear witness.
He has no need to know G-d's Name, nor to see His outstretched hand. He has
Hashem's promise, and he merits G-d's trust, and that is enough - 'E-l
Shad-dai - SheAmar L'Olam Dai.
Klal Yisrael are the children of G-d, heirs to the Divine assurance of an
unlimited reward. Once man understands the nature of this binding
relationship, he recognizes it as an immutable truth, one that cannot be
And he knows that G-d's word is as good as done.
Baruch SheAmar V'Hayah HaOlam - When G-d speaks - life happens.
This concept explains the why Jews have a treasured custom, the pledge to
give charity, the promise to undertake a certain good deed.
Why the need for a pledge? Why not just bestow Tzedakah without any prior
To understand, we must know this: man is ordained to be like G-d - Imitatio
The word of G-d is omnipotent, permanently stable, solid and absolute. His
word precedes creation, activating a process that carefully unfolds.
Man strives to follow the path of his Creator, endeavoring to speak words
that are more real than deeds. (It is for this reason that so many men are
tyrants at home, demanding that their orders be treated as Divine decree -
"Hu Amar VaYehi" - "Baruch Gozer U'Mikayem") A promise of this sort is
itself a Mitzva, and the man of faith becomes a pillar of truth, good for
his word and loyal to his commitments.
Faith, then, is a character trait, not a statement of belief. The man who
has faith does more than echo an ancient teaching. He lives with the word
that he knows to be true, faithful to a vision that he cannot deny.
Faith in G-d is not the absence of reason. On the contrary, it is the
constructs of reason that deny him the option of rebellion. It is the
skeptic of faith who fails to follow his intellect. He does not base his
rejection of G-d on solid ground, but because he cannot believe. He has no
trust. Lacking the unwavering devotion to a concept he cannot see, he
wanders from one commitment to the next, loyal only to the base instincts
Is it any wonder that modern man's concept of natural development is
'survival of the fittest'?
Aware only of the struggle and strife of a society that claws at each
other's throats, he abandons the trust that propels man towards a spiritual
domain, losing all faith in man, and incapable of belief in his Creator.
Though the fulfillment of Jewish destiny is long overdue, to the man of
faith the miracle of redemption has already arrived. History may lag
behind, but the future has been written long ago, and the words echo still,
bringing solace and comfort to those who believe what they know, and care
little for what they see:
"Bifroach Reshaim Kemo Esev, V'Yatzitzu Kol Poalei Aven, L'Hishamdam Alei
Ad......Tzaddik KaTamar Yifrach, K'Erez BaLevanon Yisgeh, SheSulim BeVais
Hashem, B'Chatzros Elokeinu Yafrichu..." (Tehillim 92)
JerusalemViews, Copyright (c) 1999 by Rabbi Heshy Grossman and Project