Posts

Showing posts from January, 2010
I gave the opening prayer in Congress this morning. See also Congressman Waxman's remarks after the pledge of allegiance...
http://adasisrael.org/congress_opening_prayer.htm

You are the Doorway

Just before the arrival of the terrible tenth plague on Egypt, Moses relays God’s command to the people of Israel to take a bundle of hyssop, dip it in the blood of the paschal offering, and to apply the blood to the lintel and two doorposts of their homes, so that the angel of death may pass them by.It’s a mysterious command, at a dark and awesome moment in the history of our people. What does it mean? Why blood on our doorposts, and why does it keep the Destroyer at bay, passing over the homes of the Israelites?The Talmud (Bava Kama 60a) explains that the Destroyer, the Angel of Death, does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, and so the blood was the only way for it to know not to enter the homes of the Israelites to take the firstborn.It’s a good answer, but why specifically the doorposts and lintel?Why not on the walls or the roof of each house?Something deeper, a message, is being hinted at with this particular image of blood on a doorway.The Sfat Emet, a great …

True Knowledge

There’s a very curious moment at the very beginning of the Torah reading this week.God says to Moses, “AniAdonai,”“I am God—[YHVH],”“I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, “ “U’shmi Adonai lo nodati lahem,”“But my [real] name, YHVH, I did not make known to them.”Strange, isn’t it?Such great men as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and they didn’t even know God’s real name:YHVH!Let’s leave aside the problematics of the fact that the name, YHVH DOES appear in the book of Genesis many times.Clearly, this is a very deep moment of revelation of God’s essence to Moses.So, we must ask, what is this amazing, ineffable name YHVH, and why is it only being revealed officially now, in the book of Exodus? The midrash and our ancient rabbis give us a wealth of explanations to our question:that the God of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was El Shaddai, which means, ‘The Powerful God:’they witnessed his strength in their own lives.Others say that the word “Shaddai” is related to the…