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Two Minutes of Torah: Vaera - God's Interview

A few months ago my football team, the soccer club Liverpool, hired a new manager, Jurgen Klopp. He got the job primarily, I think, because of his track record as a successful coach in Germany.  I don't know exactly what happened at the interview that he had with the club, but in his first media interview after being announced as the Liverpool manager he was engaging, he was funny, he was charismatic, and he laid out a plan for Liverpool that all of the fans and supporters could buy into and get behind.  By the end of that hour long meeting with the press, all of the supporters were on board with the Jurgen Klopp project. 

In this week's Torah portion we have the beginning of God's interaction with the people as a whole.  God speaks to Moses and says to him: ‘I am Adonai. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make Myself known to them by My name Adonai’ (Ex. 6:2-3). 

In this way God lays out God's credentials.  God had a relationship, and entered into a covenant, with our ancestors; Abraham Isaac and Jacob.  The challenge is that those people lived a long time ago, and as we all read at the end of the Book of Exodus it was four hundred thirty years that the Israelites were in Egypt; they had no firsthand knowledge of the people that God was referring to.  

God instructed Moses: ‘Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the Lord. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm’ (Ex. 6:6).  In this way the offer on the table was probably very attractive to a people who had suffered through all of these years of slavery.  And the promise to bring them into the land that was sworn to be given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have also been something that they look forward to. 

But we read when Moses told this to the Israelites ‘they would not listen to Moses, their spirits crushed by cruel bondage’ (Ex. 6:9).  They had no reason to believe Moses about this Adonai, and they were therefore skeptical. 

Perhaps, as we read about the Ten Plagues that follow, and all of the miracles, the ways that God brought the people out of Egypt, these were in many ways God's interview.  God's credentials were undeniable to Abraham,  Isaac, and Jacob; but after four hundred thirty years of slavery the people had forgotten.  The people had lost their connection to God, and there was a need for a reengagement and a recreating of God’s relationship with the people. 

And so over the next chapters of Torah we read of “God's interview,” as God demonstrates the power, the might, and the miracles that God could perform.  This meant that when the people got to Sinai they were ready to accept Adonai as their God.  Not just the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but the God of the people, the one that they each, individually and communally, accepted.  

About Rabbi Danny

Rabbi Danny
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