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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Yonah Burr

Va'era: The Power of Commitment

וארא אל אברהם אל יצחק ואל יעקב בקל שקי, ושמי יקוק לא נודעתי להם

Hashem spoke to Moshe and said to him, “I am Hashem”. I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchok, and to Yaakov as Kel-Shakai, but with my name of Hashem I did not make Myself known.


Our Meforshim teach that Hashem has various ‘names’, each describing a different attribute through which Hashem acts or presents Himself. This esoteric Posuk presents two names.

Two Names of Hashem

Kel-Shakai is the name Hashem uses to describe His ability to conduct the world according to the natural laws of nature, intervening to orchestrate events within the confines of those laws.

The "Four-Letter Name", represents, among other things, His ability to perform open miracles that override the natural order of things.

Another aspect of Hashem's "Four-Letter Name" is that He does miracles to keep His promises. Accordingly, Hashem is telling Moshe, I have promised time and time again to the patriarchs that I would make them a great nation and give them Eretz Yisroel. I have not yet fulfilled that promise. I am now ready to bring it to fruition.

Why Promise in the First Place?

Rav Yeruchem Levovitz of the Mir asks an insightful question. Why doesn’t Hashem simply do what He wants to do, when He want to do it? Why does He first need to make a promise and then fulfill it?

More mystifying, Hashem even fashioned separate ‘names’ to reflect each stage, the ‘promise’ and the ‘fulfillment’!

What is the meaning and lesson behind this?

The Power of Commitment

Rav Yeruchem teaches us a powerful idea. Hashem set up the world with the twin concepts of potential and actualization. When someone does a kind act or a great deed, he certainly deserves reward for his action. Still, the person doesn’t actually tether to what he did. The act doesn’t transform him or become part of him.

One who makes a commitment, however, and lives by that commitment, becomes like one with his action. The commitment creates an obligation, a "potential". The action fulfills the potential, belongs to him, and becomes part of him.

When we accepted the Torah, we followed this very pattern. We weren’t simply given the Torah. First, we committed. נעשה ונשמע -- we will perform whatever You say! By our accepting, we held the power and potential to follow through on our commitment.

Let us all make a small resolution to do something consistently. A small step. If we allow, our commitment will change us from within and launch us on the path to greatness!

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

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