Belief in God: The Source of Human Dignity and Freedom
“And God spoke to Moshe and said to him, ‘I am Hashem.’ I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yacov with the name El Shaddai, but with My name Hashem, I did not make Myself known to them.’” (Shmot 6:2-3)
Here we are, in the middle of the process of geula, and suddenly God is giving Moshe a lesson about His various names and how He has communicated to the Patriarchs in the past. What does this have to do with redemption?
Redemption, and the Redemption of Man
Geula, the true liberation of man and his capabilities and potential, can only happen when there is a genuine attachment to the great and holy name of the Holy One Blessed is He. This deeper liberation is necessarily related to an understanding of the “names” of God, because the great potential inherent in human beings is deeply linked to the revelation of Hashem in the world.
This is actually the deeper, underlying meaning of the confrontation with Pharoah. This was a confrontation between emunah, recognition of God’s reality, and kfira, denial of God. Pharoah said, “I don’t know Hashem,” and therefore, “And I will not send out Israel.” Denial of God isn’t just denial of God, it’s a denial of man. Denial of God shrinks man, and binds him to smallness.
Why is That?
Some think that the greater God is, the lesser that renders man, and conversely, the more significance one attributes to man, the less God becomes. It’s as if man and God are in competition, but that’s a flawed outlook. In fact, just the opposite is true: The “greater” one understands God to be, the greater, more exalted, man becomes.
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” (Braishit 9:6)
Kfira, denial of God, actually comes as a response to the mistaken understanding that God is detached from existence, stands outside of this world, and threatens its value. Denial of God erases from within man his true “image of God,” places man at the center of existence, and from there focuses on the dignity of man. On the one hand, kfira removes God from the picture and replaces him with man. Seemingly, this is a promotion of the status of man. However, in truth, just the opposite is the case. The true, almost limitless greatness of man derives from God. The great, life-giving light of God is the source of all existence, and the soul of all that exists; it’s what gives value, purpose and meaning to everything within creation. Removal of that brilliant, holy source light, is the removal of all value.
Just a Speck
Absent God, absent the light of God from existence, and the world becomes like a soulless body, like tasteless food: All that remains of man is a tiny speck of pathetic dust blown randomly across the empty, faceless sands of time. Kfira contends to elevate man by eliminating God from the picture of life. Indeed, those philosophies that see the universe as a Godless place, and that extol the virtues and talents of people, eventually conclude that man is a placeless being; a being who’s existence is fleeting, random, negligible, and pointless.
Our sfarim hakedoshim, our holy works rooted in Kabbalah, see God as the soul of all existence, and see the soul within all people as sparks of Godliness. From the outside, man may be nothing in the face of the vastness of all that exists, but from the inside—the pnimiut—from the dimension of the soul, man is enormous. The neshama is hewn, so to speak, from the Infinite. The soul is vast, brilliant, and transcendent—almost limitless—because it is a spark of the aiyn sof, the Infinite.
So Much More
When one looks at the world through the eyes of emunah, one senses the limitless grandeur of God behind the curtain of creation; the boundless majesty of God, in the majesty of all beings; the Endless light of God, in the soul of man. With emunah, everything becomes both a window and a portal to the great, holy, ultimate Beyond.
Emunah in Hashem leads directly to emunah in man; to a belief in the great potential within every human being. The potential to be, just like the entirety of creation, a setting for the presence of God.
Moshe and Now
When Hashem taught Moshe about His names, He was teaching him about the great source of all potential and kedusha. He was teaching him about the essence of geula; the revelation of Godliness in the world, and the revelation of the Godliness in Am Yisrael. Today, when so many feel so empty, so small—so lost in a dark world, a world like that of Pharoah’s that denied and smothered the light—the time is ripe for revelation and redemption. For seeing and revealing the deep, rich, lofty, holy, beauty in Am Yisrael. Geula is the highest of heights; the great heights of a redeemed Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael, the heights that hold the keys to the high potential in all of God’s creation, the heights of—
“And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I am glorified.’” (Isaiah 49:3)
Translated by Shimon Apisdorf
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