Parsha Perspectives - Va'eira 5783

Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel - Chabad of Nashville


Fear of the Unknown

How to defeat one of life’s great insecurities

Research points to an interesting idea when it comes to man’s highest pursuits.

Beyond food and shelter, one of the more important needs we have as a species is the need for security.

We don’t want to just have food for here and now, but we want to be sure – and sure is the key word here – that we will have some for tomorrow, and the day after that and that our children will have some long into the future as well.

People try to establish patterns that make life more predictable, and thus controllable, to minimize the chances of unexpected events and circumstances ruining their quality of life.

Control is what we’re after, in other words.

We have life insurance, car insurance, home insurance, liability insurance…you name it!

So that we can…well, insure that we are prepared for all contingencies.

And nothing sets people off like the loss of control.

When we’re at the mercy of the elements and cannot accurately predict what will come next, we cannot adequately prepare for it.

We begin to worry, we up our defenses, and we close up.

What if in truth we never truly have control over anything in life, and what feels like control, is merely an illusion?

What if what we compute as being cause and effect is nothing more than a smoke screen, and every pattern is really the result of a larger hand at work which conceals itself behind the appearance of that intelligible pattern?

This parsha will examine the differences of the various names of Hashem employed at different times, and how they teach us how to truly be in control of our life, and not panic when we are not, or feel like we are not.





  1. Shemos 6:2-7

1. And G‑d spoke to Moses and He said to him: I am the L-rd [Yod-Keh-Vav-Keh].

2. And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Kel shakkai ("the All-Sufficient G‑d"); but [by] My name Yod-Keh-Vav-Keh I was not realized for them.

3. And also, I set up My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, where they dwelt.

4. And also, I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel under the Egyptian servitude, and I have remembered My covenant.

5. Therefore, tell the children of Israel that I am the L-rd, and I shall take you out from under the toils of Egypt, and I will deliver you from their labors, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

6. And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be to you as a G‑d; and you will know that I am the L-rd your G‑d who took you out from under the toils of Egypt.

B.   Rashi ad loc.

AND I APPEARED — to the patriarchs.

BY THE NAME OF GOD ALMIGHTY — I made certain promises to them and in the case of all of these I said unto them, “I am God Almighty”.

TO GIVE THEM THE LAND OF CANAAN — Of Abraham it is stated in the chapter that contains the commandment of the Circumcision, “[The Lord appeared to Abraham and said unto him], I am God Almighty etc., and I will give to thee and to thy seed after thee the land of thy sojourning”. Of Isaac it is stated, “[The Lord appeared unto him and said], For unto thee and unto thy seed I will give all these countries, and I will establish the oath which I sware unto Abraham, thy father”, and that oath here referred to which I sware to Abraham I uttered by the name of God Almighty. Of Jacob it is stated, “[And God appeared unto Jacob … and God said unto him], I am God Almighty; be fruitful and multiply, … the land which I gave [Abraham and Isaac to thee I will give it] etc.” So you see that I made certain vows to them and I have not yet fulfilled them.


            C.  Or Hachaim ad loc.

G‑d spoke sternly to Moses, etc. Why did the Torah not tell us what G‑d said?

  1. Shemos 1:17

And the midwives feared G‑d [Elokim] and they did not do as the king of Egypt spoke to them, and they sustained the males.

Shemos 1:20

And G‑d [Elokim] did good unto the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very strong.

Shemos 1:21

And it was, because the midwives feared G‑d [Elokim], that He made them houses.

  1. Shemos 3:2

And an angel of the L-rd [YHVH] appeared to him in the heart of the fire in the midst of the bush. And he saw, and, behold, the bush was burning with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

Shemos 3:4

And the L-rd [YHVH] saw that he had turned aside to see. And G‑d [YHVH] called to him from the midst of the bush, and He said: Moses, Moses. And he said: Here I am.

Shemos 3:7

And the L-rd [YHVH] said: I have seen the afflictions of My people who are in Egypt, and their outcry have I heard under their taskmasters, for I have known [i.e., taken to heart] their tribulations.

  1. Bereishis 1:1-2

1 In the beginning of the creation by G‑d [Elokim] of the heavens and the earth,

2 the earth was vacuous and void, and there was darkness upon the face of the deep, and the "wind of G‑d" [Elokim] hovered over the face of the waters.

  1. Bereishis 2:7-8

7 And the L-rd G‑d [YHVH, Elokim] formed the man, dust from the earth. And He blew into his nostrils a soul of life, and man became a vital soul,

8 And the L-rd G‑d [YHVH, Elokim] planted a garden in Eden from the east, and He placed there the man that He had formed.

Bereishis 2:15-16

15 And the L-rd G‑d [YHVH, Elokim] took the man, and He placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.

16 And the L-rd G‑d [YHVH, Elokim] commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden you may eat.

  1. I Kings 18:38-39

38 Then fire from the LORD descended and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the earth; and it licked up the water that was in the trench.

39 When they saw this, all the people flung themselves on their faces and cried out: “The LORD alone is God, The LORD alone is God!” [YHVH is Elokim, YHVH is Elokim]

  1. Devarim 4:39

And you shall know this day, and you shall set it to your heart, that the L-rd, He is G‑d, [YHVH is Elokim] in the heavens above and on the earth below; there is none else.

  1. Zohar, Raya Mehemna

The fourth precept: to know that Hashem is the Elohim. As it is written, "Know this day, and consider it in your heart, that Hashem He is the Elohim". Meaning, that the name Elohim is included in the name of Hashem, and acknowledged as one and inseparable. And this is the secret of the verse, "Let there be luminaries (Heb. מְאֹרֹת) in the firmament of give light upon the earth", that both names should be as one without any separation. Thus, מְאֹרֹת, spelled without a Vav, should be included within the term heaven, because they are as one and inseparable. Black light (Malchut) within white light (Zeir Anpin). Both are as one without separation.

  1. Shemos Rabbah 3:6

“And they say to me: "What is His name?" what shall I tell them?” – Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to Moses, is my name what you wish to know?

According to my deeds I am named; there are time when I am named Kel Shakkai, Tzevaos, Elokim, YHVH.

When I am passing judgement on creation, I am named Elokim, and when I am waging war against the wicked, I am named Tzevaos, […]  and when I am exercising mercy on my world, I am named YHVH, for YHVH is nothing but the attribute of mercy.

  1. Tractate Chagigah 12a

When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, it continued to expand like two balls of a warp, whose cord lengthens as they unravel, until the Holy One, Blessed be He, rebuked it and made it stand still, as it is stated: “The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at His rebuke”. And this is the same as that which Reish Lakish said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “I am the Almighty God [ El Shakkai]”? It means: I am He Who said to the world “enough [dai],” instructing it to stop expanding.

M.   Maamar Veyadata Hayom 5657

Loose translation and synopsis

The Zohar explains that YHVH and Elokim are in truth one entity. That means that the concealment of G‑dliness that we experience is only a perception of creation, who does not experience the Or Ein Sof, but from the perspective of the Or Ein Sof, there exists no concealment…and this is demonstrated by the fact that the name YHVH is drawn down and casts its light on all the world to provide it its life force and animate it.

This concept of life-force is that which enables every living being to feel itself alive and be conscious of its own existence.

This life-force comes from the name YHVH which emanates in a limited fashion through the contraction of Elokim.

  1. Likkutei Sichos vol. 16 p. 14

Loose translation and synopsis

The Nile River was the source of Egypt’s sustenance and the main driver of its economy, since rain was scarce in the land.

This different avenue of irrigation (and source of income) gave room to the error that livelihood does not come from Hashem, heaven forbid.

Since in the land of Israel for example, all would lift their eyes to the heaven, where rain came from, and beseech G‑d for livelihood, whilst in Egypt, no such exercise was necessary, since the water regularly rose from the river to irrigate the fields.

This, in turn, cause the Egyptians to worship the river as a deity.

This then, was the objective of Pharoah’s decree of throwing every male into the river; that is to say he thought to ‘drown’ and wholly permeate the Jews with Egyptian idol worship and mentality.


  • Hayom Yom, entry for Av 4

No matter how much effort is exerted, no-one can earn one cent more than G‑d has ordained that he - this particular person - shall earn. One must do what is necessary, but one must remember that all his work is but an adjunct. The main thing is G‑d's blessing, and that blessing is earned by being observant of G‑d's commands: Davening with a minyan, observing Shabbat b'hidur (beyond the minimum, with "beauty"), meticulous observance of kashrut, having children instructed by sincerely religious teachers.