Rabbi Label Lam
And G-d spoke to Moshe and said to him; "I am Hashem! I appeared to
Avraham to Yitzchak and to Yaakov as El Shaddai, but with My name Hashem
I did not make Myself known to them. Moreover, I established My covenant
with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning
in which they sojourned. (Shemos: 2-4)
Moshe is at the height of frustration. He tried to avoid the task of
being the one to take the Jewish People out of Egypt but The Almighty
thrust it upon him. Now, not only was his attempt to help thwarted, but
his worst fears were realized. His efforts made the situation much worse
for the Children of Israel. With negotiations broken down and Moshe the
verbally handicapped spokesman having failed so miserably, the situation
seems all but helpless and beyond any natural remedy.
At that moment The Almighty reminds Moshe, as mentioned above, that he
had dealt with the Patriarchs using a different name and He intends to
follow through on his promise that he made to them. How is that the
answer, the cure for this deepening crisis? What is the meaning of
having related to others with a different name? What is the connection
between the different names used and the promise to the forefathers?
Reb Avraham, the Ibn Ezra was a great scholar who lived an extremely
austere existence. Often he traveled in self-imposed exile from place to
place where he was dependant upon the kindliness of strangers. One
Friday night after the evening service of receiving the Shabbos, the Ibn
Ezra stood humbly in the back of the schul hoping someone would have
pity upon him and invite him as a guest for the Shabbos meal. All of the
well-to-do members passed him by without notice. When the last person
was about to leave he extended Shalom and a warm Shabbos invite to the
At the man's house it was apparent that food was scarce and the man
could hardly afford to feed his wife and self, no less a Shabbos guest.
All there was to eat was a few small pieces of chicken, a wing and a
leg, one for the Friday meal and another for the day meal. There was
only a few small rolls for challahs and a few miniature pieces of kugel
and barely enough wine to be extended over the Shabbos.
When the spare meal was served on Friday night the Ibn Ezra asked for
more to eat but they told him that they wouldn't have enough for
tomorrow's meal if they served too much that night. The Ibn Ezra insisted that they had
nothing to worry about, that Hashem would help. Reluctantly they served the food, which was completed that night.
The next day in Synagogue the Ibn Ezra came early and planted himself in
the Rabbi's velvet lined chaired. People were appalled to see him
sitting there but nobody said a word. When the Rabbi entered he took
another seat and some people tried to remove him from the Rabbi's place
unsuccessfully. After the reading of the Torah, the Ibn Ezra ascended
the bima- the platform/stage and started to deliver a profoundly erudite
Talmudic discourse. Everyone was astounded that they had misjudged his
stature mistaking him for a poor simpleton. They realized that this
person, whoever he was actually on a lofty level and might, even be a
Now filled with regret at having mistreated him, the Ibn Ezra was
flooded with invitations for the Shabbos meal by some of the most
esteemed and prominent members of the community but he declined saying
that he would only be eating at his host from the night before. At the
afternoon meal, later, they sat before an empty table when a knock came
at the door and another and another. People were lined up with food,
kugelach, meats, wine, challahs of all types and tastes begging that the
great rabbi please partake of their delicacies. The Ibn Ezra and his
host ate well that Shabbos and it was as he said Hashem helped.
The same was true for Moshe and the Children of Israel. According to the
old system, the regular way in which The Almighty deals with the world,
there was no avenue for help. However, the supernatural channels had
never been explored or exposed in previous generations, not even to
Avraham, Yitzchak or Yaakov. They had never experienced the overtly
miraculous. They needed it less to perform. They understood and accepted
The Creator, hidden in the cloak of kindliness, through the ordinary life.
The powerful display, namely the process of the ten plagues, would
demonstrate the open power of Hashem as he had never been experienced
before. Just as in the story of the Ibn Ezra, those who were thoughtful
enough to host the great one when his true qualities were hidden, were
to merit more than those who needed open proof. The whole paradigm of
the status quo changes and the situation can get unstuck when an
unexpected value is made known-a single hidden identity.
Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Dovid Green and
Project Genesis, Inc.