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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Live From Budapest!!

I can't get the whole post in just now. I am at a sort of cafe/food emporium which offers free wi-fi and cheap beer (well, most places here offer the latter, at least) but they are going to close any moment!

Maybe I will just wrap this segment up by pointing out that no matter what particular meanings you assign to these various names of God, you will come away understanding that the Torah looks at each name as being unique and meaningful.

The Ibn Ezra in his commentary here understands the name Shaddai to be derived from the root shoded meaning, in this sense, to control as in The God Who Controls Stuff in the Universe.

Rashi understands the name יקוק to refer to that aspect of God which metes out reward and punishment. This understanding of that name is evident from a number of passages later on in Vayikra, and we'll comment more on them there perhaps (if I remember!).

In our context, then, it means that the Patriarchs didn't personally experience all of the reward that God promised them and yet they didn't kvetch and challenge God as Moshe did.

And here is the contrast, then, between Moshe's argument with God and Avraham's argument with God about the destruction of S'dom and Amora: Avraham's argument was essentially selfless--he had nothing to personally gain by the halting of the destruction nor nothing personally to lose by letting the destruction take place (except maybe losing his nephew Lot, but that gets taken care of anyway).

Moshe, though, when he argues with God here is, of course, concerned primarily with the welfare of his fellows but he is likewise concerned that his own efforts were for naught or worse. That is, he expresses real doubt about God's direction here and feels that in some way God may have slighted him. It is not a bad argument  in some ways and I would argue myself that it may reflect one of the reasons that Moshe was chosen to be the vehicle for receiving the Torah itself whereas the Patriarchs didn't get that particular honor. We'll pick up on this next time.

Night all!!


  1. interesting so that means
    Moshe invests his whole self in the mission
    whereas Avraham is not so evolved yet
    still a cardboard figure
    while moshe is a multi faceted being
    yes, it does seem though and this i think is the point that hashem does take a lot of arguments and deals with them
    he opens discussion like a good teacher does
    rather than shut them up
    that is for me the essence of true judaism
    thanks from hungary and all
    kol hakavod shell

  2. Well, I wouldn't say that Avraham is not so evolved in contrast to Moshe. I'll write something about that in my post today to clarify the way I see that.

    I would say, though, that your observation about how Hashem deals with arguments is a good one. We do see pointedly in the book of Iyov, though, that God is seemingly less open there to discussion.

    One way of understanding the way God is portrayed in Tanach is how we as humans perceive God; that is, we see that God is sometimes described in human terms (e.g. that God 'regretted' creating man). Similarly, when we challenge God even now, even if we don't have an actual revelation of God, if we are open to it we may be able to have that discussion with God. However, we may also feel that the discussion is closed from God's side depending on our perceptions.

    Something to think about, anyway.