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  • Rabbi Yonah Burr

Vaera: The Good Old Days

וארא אל אברהם אל יצחק ואל יעקב וגו' ושמי ד' לא נודעתי להם. וגם הקמתי את בריתי אתם לתת להם את ארץ כנען וגו' והבאתי אתכם אל הארץ וגו' ונתתי אותה לכם מורשה אני ד'.
And I appeared to Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov, but through My Name ‘Hashem’ I was not known to them. And I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan. And I will bring you to the land, and I will give it to you as an inheritance, for I am Hashem.


Hashem says to Moshe, although I did not reveal myself to the Avos with the name of Hashem, I did appear to them with the name ‘Shakai’.


Rashi explains, that Hashem is saying that He promised things to the Avos, but did not yet fulfill them. Now I will be known by the name ‘Hashem’ which represents the fulfillment of those promises.


Rashi cites a Medrash:


חבל על דאבדין ולא משתכחין, הרבה פעמים נגלתי עליהם בקל שקי ולא אמרו לי מה שמך ואתה אמרת מה שמו
Hashem says: woe to that which was lost and will never be found, many times I revealed myself to the fore-fathers and they never asked Me my name. But you have asked for My Name.

Simply read, the medrash is criticizing Moshe on his ‘lack of belief’ in Hashem, insisting to know His Name.


Rav Shimon Schwab z”l explains this medrash on a deeper level. Hashem as it were, is lamenting the passing of an era; the Avos knew Hashem, knew His promise to one day redeem His people and give them Eretz Yisroel, but they never personally witnessed it. But they believed it would one day occur.


This represents ‘living with Hashem through Emunah’. The special relationship they had that they were able to ‘trust’ before actually seeing results. The living with, and yearning for, a closer relationship with Hashem. However, now is the time for Hashem to deliver, and the era of mere trust is over; now is the time for Me to show Klal Yisroel the redemption.


Hashem is lamenting the past, when Emunah predominantly defined the relationship. Now, the Jewish People will see Me clearly, and the relationship will shift to one of fulfillment of promise, of results, as opposed to simple faith.


Of course, the purpose of faith and belief is to eventually reach the level of absolute knowledge; but there is a special sweetness and innocence in the pure faith and reliance on Hashem, before we see it happen. The medrash is saying, that as we transition forward, this dimension will be lost.


This insight can serve as an inspiration for our current situation. We often feel that if only we would witness open miracles, it would be so much easier to serve Hashem; but Rav Schwab is teaching us, that our living with faith is an opportunity that we should cherish now. This is once again the ‘era of trust’ when we have the ability to show Hashem how much we yearn for Him. In the future, when things are clearer, the mandate will be different, and the expectations will be different.


Let us maximize our service of Hashem now, so we can once again look back at this time as the ‘good old days’, and may we merit the ‘good new days’ of Moshiach speedily in our day!


Have a wonderful Shabbos.


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