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   by Jacob Solomon

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G-d (Elokim) spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am G-d (Hashem)" (6:2).

This is the answer G-d gave to Moshe Rabbeinu when he complained that his appearance before Pharaoh caused the conditions of the suffering Israelites to deteriorate rather than improve. Elokim generally refers to G-d's Middat Hadin (strict justice), but Hashem denotes His Middat Harahamim (justice moderated by mercy). G-d's reply continues - I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as K-l Sh-dai, but I did not make myself known to them by My name Hashem (6:3).

Three questions: firstly, why is there a change from Middat Hadin to Middat Harahamim in same Pasuk? Secondly, when G-d promised Abraham the land of Canaan, He did indeed made himself known to him by the name Hashem - I am Hashem who brought you out of Ur Casdim to give you this land as an inheritance (Bereishit 15:7). Thirdly, G-d's statement 'I am Hashem' above is the only answer He gave to Moses' distressed plea: Why did You bring evil to this people, Why did You send me? The rest of G-d's reply to Moses appears (according to Rashi) to make a negative contrast between Moses and the Patriarchs in the way they reacted to suffering in carrying out His commands.

Abarbanel explains that these varses show how Moses' relationship with G-d was far more intimate than that of the Patriarchs - Moses was the only person who knew G-d face to face (Deut. 34:10). Indeed when G-d spoke to him here He used the phrase 'but I did not make myself known to them by My name Hashem'. Ladaat - to know (the root of the word used here) - often means to know intimately (see Rashi on Bereishit 18:19). In justifying the deeper relationship the Daat Zekeinim points out that this was earned by Moses' having taken on the enormous responsibilities of the future Torah Nation, which in the time of the Avot was an individual family. Thus when G-d appeared to the Patriarchs as K-l Sh-dai, it means with the 'sufficient' Divine revelation that the Patriarchs needed for their more limited tasks. However My name Hashem expresses the unique intimacy that only Moshe Rabbeinu had with G-d.

Thus according to this explanation I am Hashem - conveying that special relationship - implies that Moses should have know enough about G-d's Middot not to have asked Why have you done evil to this people?

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon: From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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