Introduction

Jewish history has had several watershed moments – events that served as turning points not only for our people, but for the spiritual history of the world. Among those, the most critical are the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah, for these two events redefined the entire nature of our existence and shaped for eternity the direction of the future of our people and the world at large.

In the sichah that follows, the Rebbe focuses on the metaphysical background of the transition that took place then, highlighting the names of G‑d that control the spiritual – and therefore, the physical – realities that define existence. This week’s Torah reading begins with G‑d telling Moshe,1 “I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov via [the names] E-l, Shaddai (the L‑rd, the Omnipotent),2 but I did not become known to them via My name Havayah.”3 The names E-l and Shaddai, refer to the manner in which G‑d limits Himself, as it were, according to the structures of the worlds. Indeed, these names define those structures. Thus, our Sages4 comment that the name Shaddai indicates that G‑d said, “I told My world, dai – enough,” i.e., instead of the creation reflecting G‑d’s infinity, it would have limits. By contrast, His name Havayah is His essential name,5 reflecting G‑dliness as it transcends the limitations of the world, indicating how He is “past, present, and future, at the same moment.”

With the Exodus from Egypt and the Giving of the Torah, G‑d introduced this dimension of transcendence into our existence as a people, thereby reordering the structure of existence for the entire world.

The sichah defines how our people – both as a whole and each of us as individuals – can be mediums for the revelation of this infinite dimension and enable it to permeate all aspects of our lives.

A Perplexing Answer

1. As related at the beginning of this week’s Torah reading, in response to Moshe’s complaint cited at the end of Parshas Shmos,6 “Why have You mistreated this people?”

G‑d spoke to Moshe and told him, “I am G‑d (Havayah). I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov via [the names] E-l, Shaddai (the L‑rd, the Omnipotent),7 but I did not become known to them via My name Havayah.8 Also, I established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourns where they lodged…. and I remembered My covenant. Therefore, say to the Children of Israel, ‘I am Havayah, and I will take you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you…. And I will redeem you…. I will take you to Me as a people… and you will know that I am Havayah.’ ”9

א

בִּתְחִלַּת פַּרְשָׁתֵנוּ מְסֻפָּר אוֹדוֹת דִּבְרֵי ה’ אֶל מֹשֶׁה (בְּמַעֲנֶה עַל טַעֲנָתוֹ (בְּסוֹף פָּרָשַׁת שְׁמוֹת53) “לָמָה הֲרֵעוֹתָ לָעָם הַזֶּה גו’ ”) – “וַיְדַבֵּר54 אֱלֹקִים אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי ה’, וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵ-ל שַׁדָּ-י וּשְׁמִי ה’ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם. וְגַם הֲקִימוֹתִי אֶת בְּרִיתִי אִתָּם גו’ וָאֶזְכּוֹר אֶת בְּרִיתִי. לָכֵן אֱמוֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנִי ה’ וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלוֹת מִצְרַיִם וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם גו’ וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם גו’ וְלָקַחְתִּי אֶתְכֶם גו’ וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי ה’ גו’ ”.

According to the straightforward meaning of these words,10in response to Moshe’s protest – “but You have not saved Your nation”11G‑d is reassuring him that the time for the fulfillment of His promise to the Patriarchs has now arrived and He will redeem the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt.

וּמַשְׁמָעוּת הַדְּבָרִים לְפִי פְשׁוּטָם55, שֶׁלֹּא יִדְאַג מֹשֶׁה שֶׁ”וְהַצֵּל לֹא הִצַּלְתָּ אֶת עַמֶּךָ”56, כִּי כָּעֵת הִגִּיעַ זְמַן קִיּוּם הַבְטָחַת הַשֵּׁם לְהָאָבוֹת וְיִגְאוֹל אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם.

However, explanation is necessary: What is the intent of the introduction, “I appeared to Avraham… via [the names] E-l, Shaddai, but I did not become known to them via My name Havayah”? Seemingly, this statement minimizes the stature of His promise to the Patriarchs.

אֲבָל צָרִיךְ בֵּאוּר מַהוּ עִנְיָנָהּ שֶׁל הַהַקְדָּמָה הַמְמַעֶטֶת (לִכְאוֹרָה) בְּעֶרֶךְ הַהַבְטָחָה אֶל הָאָבוֹת – שֶׁ”וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם גו’ בְּאֵ-ל שַׁדָּ-י וּשְׁמִי ה’ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם”?

Rashi12explains that the intent of the verse is to clarify that, in the era of the Patriarchs, G‑d had yet to fulfill His promise. This is what is meant by “I did not become known to them via My name Havayah” – G‑d was stating, “I did not make Myself known to them with My attribute of faithfulness,”7for He had yet to fulfill that promise. Now, however, the time had come to do so.

Nevertheless, the fundamental difficulty of the verse remains: Of what importance is it in the present context that, in the era of the Patriarchs, G‑d had yet to fulfill His promise?

בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י57 מְבֹאָר שֶׁכַּוָּנַת הַכָּתוּב שֶׁבִּימֵי הָאָבוֹת עֲדַיִן לֹא קִיֵּם ה’ הַבְטָחָתוֹ, וְזֶהוּ “וּשְׁמִי ה’ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם” – “לֹא נִכַּרְתִּי לָהֶם בְּמִדַּת אֲמִתִּית שֶׁלִּי” (כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא קִיֵּם עֲדַיִן הַבְטָחוֹתָיו), וְעַתָּה הִגִּיעַ זְמַן קִיּוּם הַהַבְטָחָה. אֲבָל עִקַּר הַקֹּשִׁי בִּמְקוֹמוֹ עוֹמֵד: לְמַאי נַפְקָא-מִנָּהּ כַּאן זֶה שֶׁבִּימֵי הָאָבוֹת עֲדַיִן לֹא נִתְקַיְּמָה הַבְטָחָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא?

Furthermore, as implied by the very name “Torah,” all of the Torah’s words are “instructions,”13 eternal lessons for every Jew for all time. What is the lesson to be derived from knowing that “I did not become known to them via My name Havayah”?14 It is also necessary to explain the precise intent of the words, “I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Yaakov.” Seemingly, the verse should have used terser wording15such as, “I appeared to your ancestors,”16 or the like. Moreover, even if there is a reason for mentioning the names of each of the Patriarchs, the verse could have read, “I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov.”17 Why does the verse interrupt its flow by adding the word אֶל,18 “to” (“to Yitzchak and to Yaakov”)?

וְעוֹד: כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הֵם (תּוֹרָה לְשׁוֹן58) הוֹרָאָה נִצְחִית לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל עַד סוֹף כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת; וּמַהִי הַהוֹרָאָה אֵלֵינוּ מֵהוֹדָעָה זוֹ שֶׁ”שְׁמִי ה’ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם”59?

גַּם יֵשׁ לְהָבִין דִּיּוּק הַכָּתוּב "וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב", דְּלִכְאוֹרָה הֲוָה לֵיהּ לְקַצֵּר60 "וָאֵרָא אֶל אֲבוֹתֶיךָ"61 (וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָזֶה)? וְגַם אִם יֵשׁ טַעַם שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְפָרֵט שְׁמוֹת שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָאָבוֹת, הֲוָה לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר62 "וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב", וּמַדּוּעַ מַפְסִיק בֵּינֵיהֶם בְּתֵבַת "אֶל"63 ("אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב")?

The Import of a Name

2. When interpreting the verse, “G‑d spoke to Moshe and told him, ‘I am G‑d (Havayah),’ ” the Alter Rebbe explains19 that G‑d was not merely offering words of comfort and a promise. He was answering Moshe’s complaint, “Why have You mistreated this people?” G‑d was emphasizing that the intent of the redemption from Egypt was the revelation of His name Havayah – “I am Havayah” – as the verse proceeds to state explicitly, “Therefore, say to the Children of Israel, ‘I am Havayah… and you will know that I am Havayah.’ ” In order to be worthy of the revelation of G‑d’s name Havayah, which is a very lofty revelation, it is necessary to experience a very severe exile, to the extent that one feels “mistreated.”

ב

עַל הַכָּתוּב "וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹקִים אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי ה' " מְבָאֵר רַבֵּינוּ הַזָּקֵן64, שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּזֶה (לֹא רַק נֶחָמָה וְהַבְטָחָה, אֶלָּא גַּם) תְּשׁוּבָה וּמַעֲנֶה עַל טַעֲנַת מֹשֶׁה "לָמָה הֲרֵעוֹתָ לָעָם הַזֶּה", כִּי בְּזֶה מַדְגִּישׁ שֶׁעִנְיָנָהּ שֶׁל גְּאֻלַּת מִצְרַיִם הוּא – הִתְגַּלּוּת שֵׁם הֲוָיָ', "אֲנִי הֲוָיָ' ", וְכִמְפֹרָשׁ בְּהֶמְשֵׁךְ הַכְּתוּבִים "לָכֵן אֱמוֹר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲנִי ה' גו' וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי ה' גו' ", וּכְדֵי לִזְכּוֹת לְגִלּוּי שֵׁם הֲוָיָ', שֶׁהוּא גִלּוּי עֶלְיוֹן בְּיוֹתֵר, צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת תְּחִלָּה גָּלוּת קָשָׁה בְּיוֹתֵר ("הֲרֵעוֹתָ").

The verse proceeds, intimating that this was the reason that this revelation was not granted in the era of the Patriarchs, as alluded to by the verse, “I appeared to Avraham… via [the names] E-l, Shaddai, but I did not become known to them via My name Havayah,i.e., they had not undergone this preparatory stage.

The various names of G‑d reflect differences in the nature of the revelation of G‑dliness.20 G‑d’s name Havayah reflects a uniquely transcendent revelation – one so wondrous that even the Patriarchs were not granted it, as the verse states, “I did not become known to them via My name Havayah.”

(The revelation to the Patriarchs was “via [the names] E-l, Shaddai,” i.e., names that indicate that G‑d limits Himself according to the structures of the worlds.21Hence, G‑d used the name Shaddai, the name through which those limits were established, as reflected in our Sages’ interpretation22 of that name, “I told My world, dai –enough.” By contrast, His name Havayah is His essential name,23 reflecting G‑dliness as it transcends the limitations of the world, how He is “past, present, and future, at the same moment).”24

Since G‑d was grooming the Jews for such a unique revelation, it was necessary that the preparatory stages also be unique, ultimately involving a drastic descent into exile.

וּמוֹסִיף הַכָּתוּב שֶׁמִּטַּעַם זֶה לֹא הָיָה גִּלּוּי זֶה בִּימֵי הָאָבוֹת, "וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם גו' בְּאֵ‑ל שַׁדָּ-י וּשְׁמִי ה' לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם" – כִּי מַעֲלָה נִפְלָאָה בְּגִלּוּי זֶה, שֶׁאֲפִילוּ הָאָבוֹת לֹא זָכוּ לוֹ, "וּשְׁמִי ה' לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם" [שֶׁהִתְגַּלּוּת ה' אֶל הָאָבוֹת הָיְתָה רַק בְּ"אֵ-ל שַׁדָּ-י", שֶׁזֶּהוּ כְּפִי שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְצַמְצֵם אֶת עַצְמוֹ לְפִי עֶרֶךְ הָעוֹלָמוֹת (כְּפֵרוּשׁ שֵׁם שַׁדַּ-י – "שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לְעוֹלָמִי דַּי"65), וְלֹא שֵׁם הֲוָיָ', שֶׁזֶּהוּ שֵׁם הָעֶצֶם66 כְּפִי שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִגִּדְרֵי הָעוֹלָם, "הָיָה הֹוֶה וְיִהְיֶה בְּרֶגַע אֶחָד"67–] וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת בִּשְׁבִיל זֶה הֲכָנָה מְיֻחֶדֶת שֶׁל יְרִידָה בְּגָלוּת כו'.

What the Patriarchs Were Not Granted

3. Based on the above, it follows that G‑d’s words to Moshe – “I appeared to Avraham...” – convey the foundation and the primary purpose of the redemption from Egypt. Firstly, the redemption from Egypt was not only a physical redemption; it was primarily a spiritual redemption, a transition from subjugation in Egypt to freedom and the service of G‑d, as stated,25 “When you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve G‑d on this mountain;” i.e., the purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was the service of G‑d through the acceptance of the Torah and its mitzvos. Beyond that, the goal of this spiritual redemption was the revelation of G‑d’s name Havayah and the Jews attaining knowledge of it.

ג

וְעַל פִּי זֶה נִמְצָא, שֶׁבְּדִבְרֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה, “וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם גו’ ”, מְבֹאָר יְסוֹד וְעִקַּר עִנְיָנָהּ שֶׁל גְּאֻלַּת מִצְרַיִם. שֶׁלֹּא זוֹ בִּלְבָד שֶׁמַּהוּתָהּ שֶׁל גְּאֻלָּה זוֹ (אֵינָהּ גְּאֻלָּה גַשְׁמִית בִּלְבָד, אֶלָּא בְּעִקָּרָהּ) הִיא גְאֻלָּה רוּחָנִית מִמַּצָּב שֶׁל שִׁעְבּוּד לְמִצְרַיִם לְמַצָּב שֶׁל חֵרוּת וַעֲבוֹדַת הַשֵּׁם (וּבִלְשׁוֹן הַכָּתוּב68 “בְּהוֹצִיאֲךָ אֶת הָעָם מִמִּצְרַיִם תַּעַבְדוּן אֶת הָאֱלֹקִים עַל הָהָר הַזֶּה”, שֶׁתַּכְלִיתָהּ שֶׁל יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הִיא עֲבוֹדַת הָאֱלֹקִים בְּקַבָּלַת הַתּוֹרָה וּמִצְווֹתֶיהָ), אֶלָּא עוֹד זֹאת, שֶׁמַּטָּרַת וְתַכְלִית גְּאֻלָּה רוּחָנִית זוֹ הִיא גִּלּוּי וִידִיעָה בְּשֵׁם הֲוָיָ’.

Based on the above, it is possible to reach a deeper understanding of why the verse elaborates regarding the Patriarchs, “I appeared to Avraham… via [the names] E-l, Shaddai, but I did not become known to them via My name Havayah.” With this statement, the Torah is underscoring that despite the great virtue of the Patriarchs’ Divine service – as reflected by our Sages’ words,26 “The Patriarchs represent G‑d’s chariot” – they had not yet reached a state of redemption. The Exodus from Egypt was connected with attaining the knowledge of G‑d’s name Havayah that was not known to the Patriarchs.18

וְעַל פִּי זֶה מוּבָן בְּעֹמֶק יוֹתֵר הַטַּעַם שֶׁהַכָּתוּב מַאֲרִיךְ כַּאן אוֹדוֹת הָאָבוֹת – “וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם גו’ בְּאֵ-ל שַׁדָּ-י וּשְׁמִי ה’ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם”, כִּי בְּזֶה מֻדְגָּשׁ, שֶׁמִּבְּלִי הַבֵּט עַל גֹּדֶל מַעֲלַת עֲבוֹדַת הָאָבוֹת, וּכְמַאֲמַר חַזַ”ל69 “הָאָבוֹת הֵן הֵן הַמֶּרְכָּבָה”, עֲדַיִן אֵין זֶה מַצָּב שֶׁל “גְּאֻלָּה”; וִיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם קְשׁוּרָה בְּכָךְ שֶׁיֶּשְׁנָהּ הַיְדִיעָה בִּ”שְׁמִי הֲוָיָ’ ” (שֶׁלֹּא נוֹדַע לְהָאָבוֹת70.)

This is the reason the verse mentions each one of the Patriarchs individually – rather than stating succinctly “to your ancestors” or the like – and furthermore, includes the word אֶל, “to,” before each of their names. In this manner, it highlights the unique virtue of their Divine service.

וּמִטַּעַם זֶה מְפָרֵט הַכָּתוּב אֶת כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵהָאָבוֹת בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ (וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר בְּקִצּוּר “אֶל אֲבוֹתֶיךָ” וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָזֶה), וְגַם מַפְסִיק בֵּינֵיהֶם בְּתֵבַת “אֶל” – לְהַדְגִּישׁ עוֹד יוֹתֵר הַמַּעֲלָה שֶׁבַּעֲבוֹדַת הָאָבוֹת.

Describing them as the ancestors of the Jewish people would not reflect the distinguishing quality possessed by each of the Patriarchs individually. Instead, it would focus on their shared characteristic. Moreover, the fact that they became the ancestors of the Jewish people is a dimension granted them from Above: that in the merit of their Divine service, G‑d singled them out to be the ancestors of the entire Jewish people.27

כְּלוֹמַר: זֶה שֶׁהֵם הָ”אָבוֹת” שֶׁל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵינוֹ מוֹרֶה עַל הַמַּעֲלָה הַמְיֻחֶדֶת שֶׁבְּכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵהָאָבוֹת בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ אֶלָּא עַל הַצַּד-הַשָּׁוֶה שֶׁבָּהֶם. וְעוֹד זֹאת: זֶה שֶׁהֵם הָיוּ הָ”אָבוֹת” שֶׁל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא עִנְיָן הַבָּא מִלְמַעְלָה (שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא זִכָּה אוֹתָם, בִּשְׂכַר עֲבוֹדָתָם, שֶׁהֵם יִהְיוּ הָאָבוֹת שֶׁל כָּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל71).

Therefore, by singling out Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov individually, the Torah emphasizes the unique virtue that each of the Patriarchs possessed. As is well known,28each of the Patriarchs was identified with a particular aspect of Divine service: Avraham with deeds of kindness, Yitzchak with the worship of G‑d,29 and Yaakov with Torah study. Nevertheless, since G‑d’s name Havayah had not been revealed to them and they lacked the knowledge of it – as stated, “I did not become known to them via My name Havayah” –they had not attained a complete state of redemption.

אֲבָל פֵּרוּטָם שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָם מַדְגִּישׁ אֶת מַעֲלָתוֹ הַמְיֻחֶדֶת שֶׁל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵהָאָבוֹת [וְכַיָּדוּעַ72 שֶׁעִקַּר עֲבוֹדַת אַבְרָהָם הָיְתָה בְּקַו דִּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, וַעֲבוֹדַת יִצְחָק – "עֲבוֹדָה", וְשֶׁל יַעֲקֹב – לִמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה] – וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה לָהֶם הַגִּלּוּי וְהַיְדִיעָה בְּ"שֵׁם הֲוָיָ' ", "שְׁמִי הֲוָיָ' לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם", אֵין זֶה מַצָּב שֶׁל גְּאֻלָּה (בִּשְׁלֵמוּתָהּ).

To Leave Egypt

4. To explain: Mitzrayim, the Hebrew name for Egypt, relates to the word meitzarim, Hebrew for “boundaries” and “limitations.”30The nature of a person’s individual Egypt varies according to his character and degree of refinement. One person’s Egypt may be defined by his selfish desires and natural drives; another’s, by the bounds of intellect and reason. There is even an “Egypt of holiness.”31The implication is that since a person is a created being with inherent limitations, even when he serves G‑d with all his potential, he has yet to transcend those limitations despite his life being circumscribed entirely in the realm of holiness.

ד

בֵּאוּר הָעִנְיָן:

“מִצְרַיִם” הוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן מֵיצָרִים וּגְבוּלִים73, וְתֹכֶן זֶה שֶׁבְּ”מִצְרַיִם” יֶשְׁנוֹ גַם בִּקְדֻשָּׁה74, דְּכֵיוָן שֶׁהָאָדָם הוּא נִבְרָא בַּעַל גְּבוּל, הֲרֵי גַם כְּשֶׁעוֹבֵד אֶת ה’ בְּכָל כֹּחוֹתָיו, לֹא יָצָא עֲדַיִן מִמֵּיצָרָיו וְהַגְבָּלוֹתָיו (אַף שֶׁנִּמְצָא כֻּלּוֹ בְּעוֹלָם שֶׁל קְדֻשָּׁה);

The Exodus from Egypt represents a departure from all boundaries and limitations, even those of holiness, the attainment of a state of utter bittul, “self-nullification,” to the extent “that one does not feel his own self at all… and does not attach any importance to himself at all.”32 It is not within the potential of a person to reach such a degree of bittul on his own initiative.To paraphrase our Sages’ words:33 “One who is fettered cannot free himself from prison.” Instead, such self-transcendence can only come about through a revelation of G‑dliness from Above. More specifically, the revelation must come from G‑d’s name Havayah, i.e., G‑d’s Essence, as it transcends the limits of the world.

The awesomeness of this revelation nullifies all sense of a person’s individual identity, lifting him above all boundaries and limitations, even those of the Egypt of holiness.

וְעִנְיָנָהּ שֶׁל “יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם” הוּא הַיְצִיאָה מִמֵּיצָרִים וּגְבוּלִים, גַּם דִּקְדֻשָּׁה, שֶׁהָאָדָם הוּא בִּ”בְחִינַת בִּטּוּל לְגַמְרֵי” עַד “שֶׁאֵינוֹ מַרְגִּישׁ אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּלָל . . וְאֵינוֹ תּוֹפֵס מָקוֹם לְעַצְמוֹ כְּלָל”75, שֶׁבִּטּוּל כָּזֶה אֵין בִּיכָלְתּוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם לִפְעוֹל בְּכֹחַ עַצְמוֹ (עַל דֶּרֶךְ אֵין76 חָבוּשׁ מַתִּיר עַצְמוֹ כוּ’), אֶלָּא בָּא עַל יְדֵי הִתְגַּלּוּת ה’ מִלְמַעְלָה, וּבְזֶה גוּפָא – גִּלּוּי שֵׁם הֲוָיָ’, הַיְנוּ עַצְמוּתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא כְּפִי שֶׁהוּא לְמַעְלָה מִגִּדְרֵי הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי עֹצֶם גִּלּוּי זֶה מִתְבַּטֵּל הָאָדָם מִמְּצִיאוּתוֹ, וְזֶה מַגְבִּיהַּ אוֹתוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִמֵּיצָרִים וּגְבוּלִים, אֲפִילוּ “מִצְרַיִם” דִּקְדֻשָּׁה.

But this was not the case regarding the Patriarchs. Since G‑d “did not become known to them via My name Havayah,” they did not experience an “Exodus from Egypt,” a complete departure from boundaries and limitations.

[מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן אֵצֶל הָאָבוֹת, שֶׁ"שְׁמִי ה' לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם", לֹא הָיָה "יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם", הַיְצִיאָה (בִּשְׁלֵמוּת) מִמֵּיצָרִים וּגְבוּלִים].

A Spiritual Litmus Test

5. This provides an eternal lesson for every Jew, even one living in the era of exile. As is well known,34 even before the advent of the Ultimate Redemption of the entire Jewish people – which will be a complete redemption and liberation even in a physical sense – every person can reach a state of redemption and liberation with regard to his Divine service.

ה

וְזוֹהִי גַם הַהוֹרָאָה הַנִּצְחִית לְכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל – גַּם בִּזְמַן הַגָּלוּת:

יָדוּעַ77 שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד בִּפְרָט יָכוֹל לְהַגִּיעַ לְמַצָּב שֶׁל גְּאֻלָּה וּפְדִיָּה בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ הָרוּחָנִית, אַף קֹדֶם גְּאֻלַּת כְּלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל (שֶׁאָז תִּהְיֶה גְּאֻלָּה שְׁלֵמָה וּפְדִיָּה גַם בְּגַשְׁמִיּוּת כִּפְשׁוּטָהּ).

The knowledge of this potential challenges a person to engage in introspection: Is he in a state of exile or has he already attained a state of redemption? A person might think that if he has overcome his natural inclination, dedicated himself to the study of the Torah and the observance of its mitzvos, and even to carrying out all his personal affairs35 for the sake of Heaven, he has certainly attained a state of spiritual redemption and liberation.

וּבְזֶה יִתָּכֵן, שֶׁהָאָדָם יִקְשֶׁה לוֹ לְהַבְחִין אִם הוּא נִמְצָא בְּמַצָּב שֶׁל “גָּלוּת” אוֹ כְּבָר זָכָה לְמַצָּב שֶׁל “גְּאֻלָּה”. דְּאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה בְּדַעְתּוֹ, שֶׁאִם גָּבַר עַל יִצְרוֹ וַהֲרֵיהוּ מָסוּר וְנָתוּן לְלִמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה וְקִיּוּם הַמִּצְווֹת, וְגַם דִּבְרֵי הָרְשׁוּת שֶׁלּוֹ עוֹשֶׂה “לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם”, הֲרֵי וַדַּאי שֶׁכְּבָר זָכָה לִ”פְדִיָּה” וּגְאֻלָּה רוּחָנִית.

The verse, “I appeared to Avraham… but I did not become known to them via My name Havayah,” teaches that it is possible to serve G‑d to the extent that one is a chariot21 for His will, even serving Him in all the three paths of service – Torah study, Divine worship, and deeds of kindness – each in a consummate manner. Nevertheless, as long as his soul is not illuminated by G‑d’s name Havayah that transcends nature, he has not left his own Egypt. He has not attained a state of redemption.

וּבְזֶה מַשְׁמִיעֵנוּ הַכָּתוּב – "וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם גו' וּשְׁמִי ה' לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם", דְּאֶפְשָׁר לִהְיוֹת עוֹבֵד ה', עַד לְדַרְגָּא שֶׁל "מֶרְכָּבָה", וְעוֹד זֹאת, שֶׁעוֹבֵד אֶת ה' בְּכָל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִג' הָעַמּוּדִים דְּתוֹרָה עֲבוֹדָה וּגְמִילוּת חֲסָדִים, וְכָל אֶחָד מֵהֶם הוּא בִּשְׁלֵמוּת אֶצְלוֹ – וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, כָּל זְמַן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מֵאִיר אֶצְלוֹ שֵׁם הֲוָיָ' שֶׁלְּמַעְלָה מִן הַטֶּבַע, עֲדַיִן לֹא יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם, וְאֵין זֶה מַצָּב שֶׁל גְּאֻלָּה.

Unfaltering Constancy

6. How can a person know whether he has actually reached a level at which the revelation of G‑d’s name Havayah illuminates his soul? This question is answered through Rashi’s reading of the statement, “I did not become known to them via My name Havayah,” as “I did not make Myself known to them with My attribute of faithfulness, the reason for which I am called by the name Havayah.” The phrase midas amitis, translated as “My attribute of faithfulness,” can also mean “My attribute of truth.” The consequence of G‑d’s name Havayah not being revealed to the Patriarchs was that “I did not make it possible for them to recognize Me by My attribute of truth.”36

ו

וּבַמֶּה יִוָּדַע אֵיפוֹא אִם אָכֵן כְּבָר זָכָה לְגִלּוּי שֵׁם הֲוָיָ’ בְּנַפְשׁוֹ? הִנֵּה עַל זֶה בָּא הַפֵּרוּשׁ בְּפֵרוּשׁ רַשִׁ”י “וּשְׁמִי ה’ לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם” – “לֹא נִכַּרְתִּי לָהֶם בְּמִדַּת אֲמִתִּית שֶׁלִּי שֶׁעָלֶיהָ נִקְרָא שְׁמִי ה’ ”, שֶׁאִי הַגִּלּוּי דְּשֵׁם הֲוָיָ’ אֵצֶל הָאָבוֹת הוּא “שֶׁלֹּא נִכַּרְתִּי לָהֶם בְּמִדַּת אֲמִתִּית שֶׁלִּי”78:

The fundamental characteristic of the attribute of truth is constancy, a lack of change, as Talmud Yerushalmi states,37 “The seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is truth.”38The Talmudic passage continues, illustrating this concept by explaining that the Hebrew word for truth,אֱמֶת, is made up of three letters. Alef is the first letter of the alphabet, mem, the middle letter, and sof, the final letter, alluding to the verse,39 “I am the first and I am the last; other than Me, there is no G‑d.” The implication is that the definition of truth is always the same, found in all places, at the beginning, the middle, and the end, with absolute equivalence at every level, with no change at all, as reflected by the verse,40 “I, G‑d, have not changed.” On this basis, the conclusion of the verse,other than Me, there is no G‑d,” can be explained as follows: E-lokim, the name of G‑d used in this verse, reflects the attribute of G‑dliness associated with judgment and self-limitation that lead to the veiling and concealment of G‑dliness.41 From the standpoint of Havayah, “there is no E-lokim, there is no such concealment.

מַהוּתָהּ שֶׁל מִדַּת הָאֱמֶת הִיא – הֶעְדֵּר הַשִּׁנּוּי. וְכִדְאִיתָא בִּירוּשַׁלְמִי79 שֶׁ”חוֹתָמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֱמֶת”80 שֶׁבְּג’ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת א’מ’ת’, הִנֵּה הָא’ רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁבָּאוֹתִיּוֹת, מ’ – אֶמְצָעִיתָן, וְת’ – אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁבָּאוֹתִיּוֹת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב81 “אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹקִים”, וְהַיְנוּ, שֶׁעִנְיָנָהּ שֶׁל “אֱמֶת” הוּא, שֶׁנִּמְצָא בְּכָל מָקוֹם – בִּתְחִלָּה אֶמְצַע וְסוֹף – בְּשָׁוֶה וּבְלִי שִׁנּוּי, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב82 “אֲנִי ה’ לֹא שָׁנִיתִי” (וְזֶהוּ הַפֵּרוּשׁ “אֵין אֱלֹקִים”, שֶׁאֵין שׁוּם הֶעְלֵם וְהֶסְתֵּר83 מִצַּד שֵׁם אֱלֹקִים, מִדַּת הַדִּין וְהַצִּמְצוּם).

The achievement of a level of utter constancy in a person’s Divine service – that he continues day in and day out without any fluctuation – is the litmus test to see whether he has experienced a true and complete personal Exodus from Egypt and departed from all boundaries and limitations. Regardless of what he is involved in – be it the study of the Torah, the Divine service of prayer, the observance of the mitzvos, or carrying out his personal affairs28 for the sake of Heaven – he performs every element of His Divine service with the same utter bittul to G‑d’s will, without any fluctuation.

וְזוֹהִי הַבְּחִינָה אִם הִגִּיעַ הָאָדָם לְמַצָּב שֶׁל יְצִיאָה אֲמִתִּית מִכָּל מֵיצָרִים וּגְבוּלִים – כַּאֲשֶׁר עֲבוֹדָתוֹ הִיא לְמַעְלָה מִשִּׁנּוּיִים. כְּלוֹמַר, שֶׁלֹּא מְשַׁנֶּה כְּלָל בְּאֵיזֶה עִנְיָן הוּא עָסוּק: בְּלִמּוּד הַתּוֹרָה, בַּעֲבוֹדַת הַתְּפִלָּה, בַּעֲשִׂיַּת מִצְווֹת, אוֹ בַּעֲשִׂיַּת דִּבְרֵי רְשׁוּת שֶׁלּוֹ לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם – שֶׁבְּכָל דָּבָר וְדָבָר עֲבוֹדָתוֹ הִיא מִתּוֹךְ אוֹתוֹ בִּטּוּל הַמֻּחְלָט לִרְצוֹנוֹ יִתְבָּרֵךְ, בְּלִי שִׁנּוּי.

The potential for a person to serve G‑d in this manner comes from G‑d’s name Havayah – the “attribute of truth,” alluded to by the verse, “I am the first and I am the last; other than Me, there is no G‑d” – shining within him. This motivates a person to such a degree of bittul that the manner in which his Divine service is expressed does not matter to him; he is not restricted by any given mode of service. His fundamental bittul to G‑d shines forth in every aspect of His Divine service, all of which are carried out with limitless and unchanging devotion.

שֶׁהַכֹּחַ לָזֶה הוּא עַל יְדֵי שֶׁמֵּאִיר אֶצְלוֹ שֵׁם הֲוָיָ’, “מִדַּת אֲמִתִּית שֶׁלִּי” (“אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹקִים”), שֶׁזֶּה פּוֹעֵל אֵצֶל הָאָדָם בִּטּוּל כְּזֶה, שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִתְפָּס וּמֻגְבָּל בִּפְרָטֵי צִיּוּרֵי הָעֲבוֹדָה, אֶלָּא בְּכֻלָּם מְאִירָה אֶצְלוֹ נְקֻדַּת הַבִּטּוּל לְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, לְמַעְלָה מֵהַגְבָּלָה וְשִׁנּוּי.

In this vein, reference can be made to the Baal Shem Tov’s42 interpretation of the verse,43 “I have placed G‑d44 before me at all times.” The Baal Shem Tov focuses on the shared root letters of the word shivisi and the word hishtavus, “making everything equal.” When G‑d is before a person at all times – i.e., when G‑d’s name Havayah shines for a person in a revealed manner – that brings him to a state of utter equanimity and he serves G‑d “with all of His strength” in every aspect of his life and in many different means of expression.45

[וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ תּוֹרַת הַבַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב84 עַל הַפָּסוּק85 "שִׁוִּיתִי ה' לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד" – "שִׁוִּיתִי לְשׁוֹן הִשְׁתַּוּוּת", שֶׁ"הַכֹּל שָׁוֶה אֶצְלוֹ" וְעוֹבֵד אֶת ה' "בְּכָל כֹּחוֹ" וּ"בְכָל הָאוֹפַנִּים"86 – שֶׁ"הִשְׁתַּוּוּת" זוֹ אֵצֶל הָאָדָם בָּאָה מִזֶּה שֶׁ"הֲוָיָ' (הוּא) לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד", דְּכַאֲשֶׁר שֵׁם הֲוָיָ' מֵאִיר אֵצֶל הָאָדָם בְּאֹפֶן גָּלוּי, הֲרֵי זֶה פּוֹעֵל "הִשְׁתַּוּוּת" בְּכָל עִנְיָנָיו].

Toward the Ultimate Horizon

7. The above explanations reflect one of the parallels between the Exodus from Egypt and the Future Redemption. The intent of that Redemption is not merely redemption in a physical sense, nor even redemption in an ordinary spiritual sense, i.e., redemption from the yetzer hara. Instead, its goal is the revelation of G‑d’s name Havayah.

ז

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהוּא בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לִגְאֻלַּת מִצְרַיִם – כַּךְ הוּא בַּנּוֹגֵעַ לַגְּאֻלָּה הָעֲתִידָה לָבוֹא, שֶׁתֹּכֶן עִנְיַן הַגְּאֻלָּה אֵינוֹ רַק גְּאֻלָּה גַשְׁמִית, וְגַם לֹא גְּאֻלָּה רוּחָנִית סְתָם (גְּאֻלָּה מֵהַיֵּצֶר הָרָע), אֶלָּא – גִּלּוּי שֵׁם הֲוָיָ’.

This reflects the depth of Rambam’s intent in his description of the state of the world in the era of Redemption, as he states at the conclusion of his Mishneh Torah:46

Then, the occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G‑d. Therefore, the Jews will be great sages and know the hidden matters, and they will attain an understanding of their Creator to the full extent of human potential, as it is written,47 “For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the ocean bed.”

וְזֶהוּ גַם עֹמֶק כַּוָּנַת הָרַמְבַּ”ם בְּסִיּוּם סִפְרוֹ, בְּתֵאוּר מַצַּב הָעוֹלָם “בְּאוֹתוֹ הַזְּמַן” – שֶׁ”לֹּא יִהְיֶה עֵסֶק כָּל הָעוֹלָם אֶלָּא לָדַעַת אֶת ה’ בִּלְבָד וּלְפִיכָךְ יִהְיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל חֲכָמִים גְּדוֹלִים וְיוֹדְעִים דְּבָרִים הַסְּתוּמִים וְיַשִּׂיגוּ דַּעַת בּוֹרְאָם כְּפִי כֹּחַ הָאָדָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר87 כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה’ כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים”:

At the beginning of that text,48 when Rambam explains the mitzvah of knowing G‑d, he does not explicitly mention49G‑d’s name Havayah. He merely speaks of “know[ing] that there is a Primordial Being.”50 By contrast, at the conclusion of his text, Rambam emphasizes “know[ing] G‑d” and quotes the verse “the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d” (using the name Havayah in both instances), thus underscoring that in that era, humanity will attain the knowledge of G‑d’s name Havayah. Moreover, man will attain knowledge of the highest levels of that name: to use the wording of Kabbalah and Chassidus,18 the higher dimension of Havayah, a level of G‑dliness that engenders complete and utter bittul.

בִּתְחִלַּת88 סֵפֶר הַיָּד, כְּשֶׁמְּבָאֵר הָרַמְבַּ”ם הַמִּצְוָה דִּידִיעַת ה’, לֹא הִזְכִּיר שֵׁם הֲוָיָ’ בְּפֵרוּשׁ89 וְכָתַב רַק “לֵידַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מָצוּי רִאשׁוֹן”90, וְאִלּוּ כַּאן מַדְגִּישׁ הָרַמְבַּ”ם “לָדַעַת אֶת ה’ ”, וְכֵן הֵבִיא הַכָּתוּב “מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה’ ”, וְהַיְנוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאָז תִּהְיֶה הַיְדִיעָה בְּשֵׁם הֲוָיָ’, וּבְזֶה גוּפָא – מַדְרֵגָה הֲכִי עֶלְיוֹנָה שֶׁבּוֹ (בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקַּבָּלָה וְהַחֲסִידוּת “הֲוָיָ’ דִלְעֵילָא”יח), הַפּוֹעֶלֶת תַּכְלִית הַבִּטּוּל לְגַמְרֵי.

Rambam implies this by citing the verse, “For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G‑d as the waters cover the ocean bed.” The revelation of G‑d’s name Havayah will bring about a state where the earth51 will not be visible at all, because it will be entirely subsumed in G‑dliness due to the overwhelming nature of the Divine revelation. It will be entirely covered with “the knowledge of G‑d” as “the waters cover the ocean bed.”52

וְזֶהוּ מַה שֶּׁמְּסַיֵּם הָרַמְבַּ"ם "(כִּי מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת ה') כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים", שֶׁגִּלּוּי שֵׁם הֲוָיָ' יִפְעוֹל שֶׁלֹּא תֵרָאֶה מְצִיאוּת הָאָרֶץ כְּלָל, כִּי תִּהְיֶה בְּטֵלָה לְגַמְרֵי בְּעֹצֶם הַגִּלּוּי, עַד שֶׁתִּהְיֶה מְכֻסָּה בְּ"דֵעָה אֶת ה' – כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים".

Likkutei Sichos, Volume 31, P. 23ff. (Adapted from a sichah delivered on Shabbos Parshas Va’eira, 5721 [1961])

(משיחת ש״פ וארא תשכ״א)