Vaera: Chapter 1

"And I the name of El Shadai, but by My name, Hashem, I was not known to them"


This passage begins with: "And Elohim spoke to Moses and said to him, 'I am Hashem, and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shadai.'" Rabbi Aba talks about "Trust in Hashem forever...for Yad Hashem is an everlasting rock," and we hear many interpretations of this scripture. One is that people have permission to observe and understand up to the level of Hashem but no higher. Rabbi Yehuda offers the interpretation that the world was created with justice and is sustained by the name Hashem. Next the discussion moves to Moses, who said, "Adonai why did you do wrong to this nation? Why did you send me?. And from the time that I have come to Pharaoh to speak in your name it has become worse for these people and you did not deliver your people." Rabbi Yehuda wonders how anyone can talk to God like this without being punished, and Rabbi Yitzchak replies that it was because Moses had authority over Malchut like someone over his household - thus he was able to speak without fear.

We hear next of judgment and mercy being joined together, and then of the reason for the name 'El Shadai.' We are told a parable about a king and his daughter to clarify that Yud Hei Vav Hei spoke to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob only through his somewhat lower intermediary, El Shadai - and El Shadai is Malchut. Next Rabbi Yosi changes the topic to the verse, "The earth is Hashem's and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell in it." He tells us that 'the earth' means The Holy Land, and that it receives the first of the blessings and the water from Hashem. Afterwards, the rest of the world receives what is left over.

Rabbi Yosi also talks about the verse, "For he founded it upon seas." He says that the seas are the seven pillars or Sfirot upon which the world is supported. The Sea of Galilee - Malchut - rules over them. Rabbi Yehuda does not like the phrase 'rules over them,' and he contends that Malchut receives from the Sfirot; thus the Sea of Kineret is filled from them. Rabbi Shimon explains why Jacob does not rule over the land of Yisrael as Moses does, saying that Jacob forsook the higher realms for the lower world. Therefore Yud Hei Vav Hei spoke to him only in the name El Shadai. Lastly, we learn from Rabbi Chiya that everyone who is circumcised and observes the sign of the covenant is righteous and inherits the land, as in the verse, "And I have also established My Covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan."


This section refers to four names for God: El Shadai, Adonai, Hashem and Yud Hei Vav Hei. Because of their different levels of development, Moses and Jacob received messages from different aspects or manifestations of God. As we seek and resonate to our own spiritual level, we can think about this concept while trying to raise ourselves higher and higher - thus becoming ever more worthy to hear the voice of the One God.