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    I appeared – Va’era

    The name "HaShem" appears at the top of this kabbalistic montage

    The name “HaShem” appears at the top of this kabbalistic montage

    Opening the sidra, God tells Moses, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as Almighty God, but by My Name HaShem I did not make Myself known to them” (Ex. 6:2).

    The first thing we learn from these words is that God does not appear to anyone in a physical form since by definition He is not physical and has no shape or form, a point which is made abundantly clear in Maimonides’ Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith. When God appears, He appears by means of His name, His character.

    Note that there are two names in this passage – E-l Shaddai, “Almighty God”, and Y-H-V-H, “HaShem”. The first name signifies His power, the second His Being.

    To the Patriarchs, His revelation was more in terms of the created world. He was the One who, from outside the system, created the system. From outside the sun, moon and stars, He created these phenomena.

    This is why Abraham, followed by Isaac and Jacob, saw the evidence of finite Creation and reasoned that the world had to have had a Creator.

    Moses, on the other hand, knew Him as HaShem, the One who is pure Being, the One who is Presence, whose name derives from the Hebrew verb “to be”.

    Moses knew Him not merely for what He does but for what He is.

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