Third Temple Torah, True Teachings

Parashas Ya'eira

From the Book of Shemos (Exodus)

Greetings from the holy city of Jerusalem!

This week's Torah portion, Ya'eira, opens with G-d addressing Moshe Rabbeinu. He tells him: "I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov" (Ex. 6:3). Rashi comments that this refers "to the Avot (Patriarchs)."

Rashi's statement is very disturbing because we are already well acquainted with Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. There is no question in anyone's mind they are the Avot. The obvious question is: What is Rashi trying to teach us here?

The Chatam Sofer observed that Rashi is not merely conveying the information that Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov were the Patriarchs; rather he is telling us that they were avot. The root of the word avot is "avu," which means "to want."

We have several sources for this. In the Book of Judges (19:25) it says, "V'lo avu ha'anashim lishmoa elav" (And the people did not want to listen to him). Closer to home, in Deuteronomy (29:19) it says "lo yoveh Hashem seloach lo" (Hashem will not want to forgive him).

In short, the word avot means "to want," and that's what Rashi is trying to teach us. Hashem says "I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov." Do you know why He appeared to them? According to the Chatam Sofer's approach to Rashi, it's because avu, it's because they wanted him to. They wanted to have a deep connection with the Divine. Therefore they lived their lives in such a way so as to be deserving of that connection with G-d.

Every one of us has a ratzon, a will, and if we utilize our will to its fullest, the things we wish for will become reality. Rashi teaches us, based on this verse, that if we want it enough, by conducting our lives with this goal in mind we can accomplish the level of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

We find that this idea appears again in this parsha, where it says regarding Yocheved, "and she gave birth to Aharon and Moshe" (Ex. 6:20). Why is it necessary to give this information again? We already know who Moshe and Aharon are from last week's parsha.

The Moreh VehaTalmud, quoted in the Ma'ayono Shel Torah, says that the reason why the Torah mentions here that Yocheved gave birth to Moshe and Aharon is to show us that they were born, just like you and me. They were babies, they cried, they grew teeth, they had dirty diapers.

They went through all the same basic stages of growth that you and I experienced, and yet they grew to become who we know today as Moshe and Aharon. They became two of the greatest people that ever walked this Earth.

This teaches us that since you and I also started out life as helpless babies, if, like them, we avu, if we want, we can achieve the level of the Patriarchs, we can achieve the level of Moshe and Aharon. All we need is iron will.

My blessing to us all is that we should utilize our will to achieve the greatest spiritual heights, and eventually, each in our own way, be likened to the Avot and to Moshe and Aharon.

Shabbat Shalom!
Aba Wagensberg

Photos and Data © Third Temple and/or Avrahom Dovid 1980 through 2005. Parsha Highlights © Rabbi Aba Wagensberg.