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Click here for two divrei Torah on the Haggadah from the Chofetz Chaim
Imagine Moshe Rabbeinu coming to his fellow Bnei Yisroel and trying to explain to them what he experienced at the burning bush? It might have gone something like this:
“Hi everyone, um, guess who I spoke with today?”
“Moshe, where have you been? We haven’t seen you since Pharaoh tried to decapitate you.”
“Yes, it’s been quite a few years. But, guess what?”
“I spoke to G-d!”
“G-d! Are you sure it was Him?”
“Yes, I’m sure; there was a burning bush, a great voice and a bunch of miracles!”
“Wow! So what did G-d say?”
He said, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him to let my people go!”
“This is amazing, so when do we go?”
It took a while, but that is what happened. After a little back and forth, a staff, a snake and 10 plagues; Pharaoh came to Moshe in pajamas in the middle of the night and said, Go!
There was, however, a crucial component of the redemption that we skipped.
When Moshe Rabbeinu first spoke with G-d, he asked, “Who should I say sent me? What is Your name?”
G-d responded, “Tell them, Ekye asher Ekye sent me to you.” Was this a new name, an old name or was it just a way of interacting with G-d?
The Medrash says that G-d was telling Moshe that you will never know my actual name because a name defines the essence of someone or something and it is impossible for a finite creation to understand the essence of an infinite being. The only way that we relate to G-d is through His actions in this world. When we experience G-d’s mercy we refer to him as Rachum. When we experience G-d’s power we refer to him as Keil. When we experience his judgment the name we use is Elokim. The name Havaya is used to refer to G-d’s kindness.
The name Ekye, says the Medrash, is the name which means I relate to the world through my actions, “Al yedei Ma’ asai ani Nikra“. Or, in other words, it is not a name but an overall explanation of the nature of our interaction with Him! In fact there is an opinion in Shulchan Aruch (YOD 276: 9) that this name does not have the same level of holiness as the other names of G-d. Whereas the other names of G-d cannot be erased, this one can. Others disagree and say that Ekye, too, is a holy name of G-d. According to this opinion there is an entirely new dimension of G-d that we became aware of at the time of Yetziyas Mitzrayim that is conveyed by the name Ekye. What was it, and why was it the new modus operandi for us as a nation to use as our interface with G-d?
A world in which a Jew and an Egyptian are able to drink from the same cup, while for one it is water and for the other it is blood, is a world that is in a constant state of renewal, an emanation of Havaya, G-dly creation. It is not a world which has been programmed with a certain set of commands and algorithms by a supreme being who is on call to reprogram and make adjustments as needed. A world of Ekye (the active conjugation of the name Havaya) is a world of live communication with the Supreme Being who is deciding right now what it should look like for me, for you, and for each creation independent of any other. This is the world of Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa, who is famous for saying, “The One who said oil should burn will say that vinegar should burn”. The way things usually function in the world is only because G-d so ordained them to function in that way right now but HE could just as well, simultaneously, determine that they should function in a different way at the same exact moment.
Our fore-fathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov related to G-d through the name ofShakay; the G-d who created the world with a set of rules which we call nature, Who intervenes when he deems it necessary. Now, G-d is telling Moshe Rabbeinu, I will not only relate to the Jewish nation through various actions, but I will have a constantly changing interaction with each and every individual. I will relate to the Jewish nation through the name of Ekye, what we could refer to as a “live chat”.
If this is the case, then our understanding of our mission in this world as Jews takes on a whole new meaning. Rav Moshe Shapiro elaborates on the echoes and ethos which a relationship of Ekye proportions has for us. The numerical value of the name Ekye(alef, hey, yud, hey) is 21. When you multiply it by itself, which is the complete expansion of the name, as it is applied throughout the exile, then you get the sum of 441 (21 x 21=441). This is the numerical value of the word EMES (alef, mem, suf). The word Emes is also famous for being the seal of G-d. It is the goal of creation. The world will only be complete when a complete awareness of the Truth is accepted by all. This can only be achieved through the negation of all other possibilities. If you only have one choice, it cannot be said that you know the Truth is correct. Only when the Truth has been chosen from out of the darkness of the falsehood of exile, can it be said, that Truth has vanquished falsehood and the path of G-d has been proclaimed to be the one and only True path. This is the next step of Ekye asher Ekye, Ekyemultiplied upon itself and fulfilled through our actions in this world of actions. At the Seder, we begin upon this path of truth. We begin by proclaiming that G-d took us out of Mitzrayim and we will serve him. We show our acceptance of His will as the one and only governing force in our lives. By fulfilling all of the Mitzvohs of the Seder. We thank Him for being constantly aware of our actions and begin to echo this by being constantly aware of Him. We conclude with the Love Song of the Jewish Soul to its Maker. Shir Hashirim asher L’ Shlomo, Melech She’ Hashalom Shelo, Yishkon Aleinu Bracha Ve’ Shalom. A song to the King who is bringing the world to Peace, may He dwell in us and fill our homes with blessings and Peace.
Chag Kasher V’ Sameyach, Have A Great Yom Tov!