Parshas Va’eira begins the process of Yetzias Mitzrayim with seven of the ten Makkos happening in this parshah. Moshe Rabbeinu was selected by Hashem to lead Bnei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim but as we saw in last week’s parshah, he was not so eager to become the leader. At the end of Parshas Shemos, when Moshe’s first appearance in front of Paroh resulted in Paroh’s adding to the already heavy burden placed on Bnei Yisrael, Moshe questioned why Hashem would send him in the first place if things were only going to get worse. Our parshah continues from this point.
“וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים אֶל משֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי יְהֹוָה” “And Hashem spoke to Moshe, and He said to him, ‘I am Hashem” (Shemos 6:2). Hashem responds to Moshe that everything that has happened and will happen over the next period of time is all part of the divine plan. The Kli Yakar asks a simple question on the pasuk. After the pasuk says that Hashem spoke to Moshe, why does it need to repeat itself and say “and He said to him”? We already know who is talking to whom!
In last week’s parshah, the pasuk explains that Moshe was given his name because, “כִּי מִן הַמַּיִם מְשִׁיתִהוּ” “For I drew him from the water” (Shemos 2:10). Chazal ask that if this is the case, he should have been called “משוי”, which means that he had been drawn. Instead, he was called “Moshe” which is the present tense of the same phrase! Chazal explain that by being given the task of leading Bnei Yisrael out of Mitzrayim, Moshe was still drawing forth in the present as well and his name showed that. His own name showed his purpose in this world.
Our pasuk starts off with “וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים” “And Hashem spoke”. In Hebrew, both of these words are used to show force and authority. Yet later in the pasuk, it says “וַיֹּאמֶר”, which is used to show a normal way of speaking, and uses a different form of Hashem’s name. Why the sudden change in the pasuk? The Kli Yakar explains that if we put these two points together, we can understand what is actually going on here.
Moshe had two good reasons for not wanting to take over as leader of Bnei Yisrael: first, that he had a speech impediment, making it difficult for people to understand him and for Paroh to take him seriously, and secondly, that Aharon had been acting leader till this point and Moshe did not want to take away from his brother’s honor. However, Hashem gave him a sign that neither of these things mattered. His name, which appears to be a grammatical error, is this sign! Hashem uses the forceful of language of “וַיְדַבֵּר” and tells Moshe to look at his name! His very name shows that he will be the one to draw Bnei Yisrael out of the waters of slavery onto dry land, the very essence of his purpose! Moshe had an obligation to look into himself and see what he was capable of and accept the responsibility which came with it, because he didn’t do this, Hashem spoke harshly to Moshe, to the potential which rested within Moshe to bring out Bnei Yisrael which he ignored. Hashem was pointing out the sign which should have given Moshe all the information and confidence he needed.
However, at the same time, Moshe did have two very good reasons for not wanting to accept this position. So, after harshly showing him why he was wrong, Hashem switches to a gentler tone and says, “אֲנִי יְהֹוָה”, I am the Merciful One, I am the One who is sending you, and I am the One who understands your hesitation and will judge you favorably.
In Judaism, names are very important. In fact, as we see from this Dvar Torah, your name determines many things about you. (The full topic is very extensive and would require many weeks for us to discuss, but I just want to give some very basic ideas.) There is a famous Chazal that when parents name their children, they are given a small bit of Ruach Hakodesh which influences their decision. This means that your name is not random, your name is given to you from Hashem to help guide you on your path through life. What do our names say about us, our strengths, our abilities, and our mission in life? The secrets are all there for us to unlock if we so choose. The key is not to try to escape it, but rather to face it head on, and do our best to live up to the full potential of our names to further serve Hashem and help the Jewish People.
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