(Numbers 6:2-9:35)

(Haftara: Ezekiel 28:25-29:21)

  1. [6:2,3] “I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov as “almighty God”, but by my name…” The Sforno (Ovadiah Sforno— Italy 14751550) says that “almighty God (El Shadai)” means God as the creator, while the 4 letter name of God refers to God as the constant operator of the world. He constantly keeps the world going. If the Patriarchs spoke to God, how could they not have known God by His 4 letter name. Doesn’t speaking with God mean that they knew God in His aspect of keeping the world going?
  2. [6:6,7, 8] “…I took you out, I saved you…” Our tradition speaks about 4 terms for redemption: “I took you out (of Egypt)… I saved you…I redeemed you (also spiritually) and I took you (to myself as a nation). The Torah is eternal and speaks on both a physical and a spiritual level. How do these terms apply to every redemption and how do they apply on a spiritual-psychological level?
  3. [7:3] “I will harden the heart of Pharoah and increase my signs and wonders…” The Sforno says that God wanted to increase His signs and wonders so that Egypt would release the children of Israel because of a recognition of God’s greatness and goodness, and not because of fear of the plagues. This explains why God hardened Pharoah’s heart. Did the Egyptians recognize God’s greatness and goodness. Is the Sforno’s explanation a good one?
  4. [7:5] “…and I took the children of Israel out…” The Chassidic texts tell us that there were sparks of Godliness trapped in Egypt and Israel went down to Egypt in order to raise up the sparks. In everyday terms, how did they raise up the sparks and how might we do it in our daily lives?
  5. [8:1] The plagues begin in this parsha. In the next parsha, God says “On all the gods of Egypt, I will make judgments”. Could these plagues be considered judgments against the gods of Egypt?

Commentary

[6:2] “And I appeared to Avraham to Yitzchak and to Ya’akov…”

On this phrase, Rashi comments, “And I appeared to the Avot (the forefathers…” What is Rashi adding here? We know that these are our forefathers. The Chatam Sofer (Pressburg, 1762-1838) says that Rashi is playing on the word, “avot”, which can also be understood in Hebrew as “those who are willing”.  So God is saying, “I appeared to those who wanted to have me appear to them”. The Rambam says something similar in relation to God calling Himself “Ehieh asher ehieh (I will be what I will be)”.  The Rambam explains, “I will be with those who want me to be with them”. Similarly the Kotzker Rebbe (Poland, (17871859) once asked his students, “Where can God be found?” He answered, “Wherever you let Him in.”

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava–Eli Zucker

And  to the memory of Sarah Beila Kummer bat Yitzchak and Chana, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer