The Long Voyage

How long is the long voyage?. How circuitous must the road to redemption be?. How much patience must this people have to endure the perilous path of exile? These were the painful question that perplexed Moshe in Egypt when he cried out to G-d:

“O Lord! Why have You harmed this people? Why have You sent me? Since I have come to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has harmed this people, and You have not saved Your people.” ( Shmot 5:22)

G-d’s answer was harsh:

“And G-d  spoke ( VaYidaber  Elokim) to Moshe and said to him, ‘I am Hashem [ibid 6:2]

The Ohr HaChaim Ha Kadosh says here is a distinct difference between the word for ‘speaking’ VAYIDABER and the word for ‘saying’ VAYOMER. The Ohr HaChaim reminds us that the word VAYIDABER which is used in this verse denotes speaking harshly as opposed to VAYOMER.  which denotes speaking gently.

Furthermore there is also a distinct difference between the use of  ‘ELOKIM ’ as a name of G-d and the use of ‘HASHEM as a name of G-d.. The name of G-d, ELOKIM represents the attribute of Justice, while the name of HASHEM  always represents the  Attribute of Mercy.

HaShem was being very clear and direct with Moshe. Moshe was concerned about “Why have You harmed this people? ” Moshe who knew of G-d’s promise and was already impacted by the vision of the bush that was burning and was not consumed ,could not have doubted HaShem intention of keeping His promise. Rather he was concerned about the difficult road his people needed to travel.

The Ramban explains that, although HaShem had told Moshe right from the start that Pharaoh would not immediately agree to freeing the Children of Israel, Moshe had thought that the plagues would come quickly and that Pharaoh would be brought to his knees. He was not prepared for the difficult results of his intervention. He therefore complained and essentially asked, if the time for the redemption had not yet arrived, why did I need to stir them with hopes?

HaShem then explains  to him that the attribute of Justice is but another aspect of mercy.

” And G-d (ELOKIM represents the attribute of Justice) spoke to Moshe and said to him, ‘I am Hashem ( representing the Attribute of Mercy. ) (ibid 6:2)

Moshe’s questioning did not come out of impudence or arrogance. It came out of his love for his people. His soul essentially cried out , how much longer must they endure this exile?  Moshe needed to be reminded  that exile is part of the redemption and just as he will himself experience, the wilderness is part of the ultimate blessing.

This redemption out of Egypt is simply the blueprint of the ultimate redemption that will blossom forth before us in our time. When we lose faith in its imminent arrival we need to remember the exodus from Egypt. When we lose patience with destiny and with ourselves, we need to remember a lowly slave people being brought out into redemption.

Exile is part of the voyage.Exile or galut has its own Divine essence and purpose. The struggles of our people are meant to rouse the most spiritual of our potentials as a people .It is meant to enable the revelation of reserves of faith and inner wisdom that lay in waiting in the hearts of this people. It is also meant to  fulfill the Divine plan of recapturing the Sparks of Holiness that have lain buried throughout Hashem’s creation.

Adversity does not build character.

Adversity unveils character.

As we enter the final stages of this journey of exile and redemption we begin the most perilous segment of the journey. The time wherein we sense we are so close and yet not there yet. This was the experience of the children of Israel just prior to their exodus. We must then remember to both feel the pain of Moshe who cried out “Ad Matai- Until when? Yet at the same time be comforted with HaShem’s response, the attribute of Justice is but another aspect of mercy:

” And G-d (ELOKIM represents the attribute of Justice) spoke to Moshe and said to him, ‘I am Hashem ( representing the Attribute of Mercy. ) (ibid 6:2)

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