Friday, December 31, 2010

Knowledge in Parsha Va'era

Excerpts from a drash on parsha Va'era which I wrote for this week's edition of The Set Table.

Our parasha opens with the famous four-fold expression of redemption that God vows to Moses:
I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments; and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God . . .
(Exodus 6:6–7a)
After these four promises from God comes a fifth:
. . . and I will bring you in unto the land concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
(Exodus 6:8) 
What is it that bridges God’s four-fold redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to God’s bringing the Israelites into the land?  The answer is given in the intervening verse:
and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
(Exodus 6:7b, emphasis mine)
This emphasis on da‘at, knowledge of God, is characteristic of the first half of Exodus, in which Israel comes to know God through his miraculous deliverance. In particular, this verse highlights that Israel’s future entrance into the land must be preceded by their coming to know that the Lord is God.

. . .

The late Lubavitcher Rebbe taught:
These verses cite five expressions of redemption. The first four relate to the Egyptian exile and the three exiles following thereafter, including the present one. The fifth—“I shall bring you . . .”—relates to an additional level of ascent that will follow the initial redemption by Moshiach
(Living With Moshiach, p. 51)
If the fifth message of redemption (“I shall bring you into the land . . .”) is a reference to the Messianic redemption, then it follows that entrance into the Messianic Age must be preceded by Israel coming to know God in the fullest sense. Of this Jeremiah writes, “no man shall teach his neighbor . . . for they all will know me” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Read the whole thing at  Shabbat shalom, readers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe strenuously opposed all of the fundamental precepts of Christianity, he rejected the historicity of the "new testament", and he well understood the profound variance between Jesus and the prophesied messiah of the Hebrew scriptures.

The quotation you lifted from the book was not stated in the context of a discussion of Jesus as messiah, and readers of your blog should take that into account as they contemplate the legitimacy of your proof texting.

In fact, the concluding paragraph of your "trash on the parsha" inadvertently punctuated the Jewish Bible's unsuitability as a proof text to Christianity. In Jeremiah you've highlighted a prophetic scene in which all Jews are consciously tuned in to G-d. That hasn't happened yet, and it's a pre-condition for the coming of the messiah. That means the Bible doesn't agree to Christian assertions that the messiah has already come. Oops!