Parsha Shemoth: Shemoth/Exodus 1:1 - 6:1
You’re nervous. You’re scared. You have no idea how you’re ever going to do what you're about to do.
“Don’t worry. I’m right here,” your friend says.
You respond, “Yes, but…”
Saying “Yes, but…” to your friend is one thing, but saying it to the Almighty is quite another, and essentially, that’s what Mosheh did in this week’s Torah portion, Parsha Shemoth.
SHEMOTH: History - Part 2
Parsha Shemoth opens the book of Shemoth (Exodus), and in this second book of the Torah, the wheels of YAH’s Master Plan begin to turn.
Sefer Bereshith (the book of Genesis) set the stage: the creation of the world and then the creation of the nation that would lead the world in the right direction. At the end of Bereshith, we had a strong family as the chosen nation's foundation - the twelve tribes of Yisra’el, the descendants of Abraham, Yitshaq, and Ya’aqob.
In the beginning of Shemoth, that family has become the great nation promised to Abraham (Ber/Gen. 12:2). But as also promised to Abraham, the nation becomes enslaved (Ber. 15:13-16). In Shemoth chapter 2, the rest of the promise starts to unfold when a child is born who will deliver them from slavery.
So, Shemoth is part two of the history. The nation created (chosen) in Bereshith will be born (i.e. released/redeemed from slavery) and will restore the Presence of Elohim in the earth and become the light for the world.
YAHUAH chose Mosheh to deliver His people from slavery. No doubt, Mosheh was assigned a great task. Unlike the forefathers who were leaders of families, Mosheh was chosen to be the leader of a nation, a nation of an estimated 2 million people.
Imagine trying to get the entire population of a small city to listen to you. Then, try to get them to leave their homes and follow you out to the desert. No easy task indeed.
That’s probably why Mosheh had so many questions when YAHUAH first commissioned him from the burning bush. First, Mosheh asks, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Yisra'el out of Mitsrayim” (Shem/Ex. 3:11).
Then, he asks, “When I come to the children of Yisrael ... and they say to me, ‘What is His Name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Shem. 3:13)
Further, he asks, “And if they do not believe me, nor listen to my voice, and say, “[YAHUAH] has not appeared to you?’” (Shem. 4:1)
Finally, Mosheh says, “...I am slow of speech and slow of tongue. [...] O YAHUAH, please send by the hand of him whom You would send.” (Shem. 4:10, 13)
“And the displeasure of YAHUAH burned against Mosheh.” (Shem. 4:14)
YAH answered every one of Mosheh’s questions with a reaffirming answer, and still Mosheh questioned. Essentially, he was saying, “Yes, but…”
A Deeper Issue
When YAHUAH got angry, was He just tired of the questions? Did He lose patience answering all of Mosheh’s queries? Of course not.
No, YAHUAH was angered because Mosheh’s questions hinted at something deeper. It was an issue of bitachon - trust.
Here Mosheh was, talking to the Most High in a burning bush that was not being consumed, and yet, he still had questions. He still had doubts, fears, and worries.
“I’m a nobody. Why me?”
“What credibility do I have?”
“What if they don’t listen to me?”
“I can’t do it. Can you send someone else?”
Mosheh had trouble seeing how this enormous task was going to be done. He couldn’t fathom in his mind that this was going to work, that he'd be able to do it. This is the issue of bitachon, trust.
EMUNAH vs. BITACHON
Emunah (faith/belief), on the other hand, is an entirely different issue.
Emunah is knowing that Elohim is the Most High Creator of the universe. He is Master and Ruler over all. He has complete control over all things. His might and strength are unlimited. He is capable of all. Knowing this is emunah.
Bitachon, trust, is knowing that YAHUAH will work out all things for my good. It’s knowing that "I’m going to be okay."
The difference between Emunah and Bitachon: Emunah is knowing that YAHUAH can do something. Bitachon is knowing that YAHUAH will do it for me.
Mosheh had no trouble with emunah. He believed in the Elohim of his fathers. He was talking to Him plain as day from the burning bush! Surely, he believed. Surely, he had emunah. In fact, that is probably why YAHUAH chose him and appeared to him in the first place: his emunah, his understanding of Who YAH is, was so great.
It was Mosheh's bitachon that needed a little work. An early sign of this was when he fled to Midyan after killing the Egyptian. True bitachon would’ve led him to stay knowing that everything would be okay. Yet, he fled.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. Surely, Mosheh had bitachon, trust in YAHUAH - certainly more so than most people, much more. But the level of bitachon needed to carry out the task of delivering Yisra’el from slavery was an exceedingly high level.
So, at the outset, Mosheh's bitachon was “lacking.” He needed to develop his already high level to an even greater - much greater - level. He needed it not only for himself, but as a leader, he also needed to be able to confidently convey the message of trust to the people.
The lesson in Mosheh’s needed growth of bitachon is no doubt a lesson for us. Many times, we increase in emunah (or at least should be), but our bitachon goes lacking.
We know how great YAH is but still wonder, “How am I going to pay my rent this month?” We know that He can do anything (emunah), but we question if He will do a certain thing for us (bitachon).
The Message in His Name
A reference to emunah and bitachon is in the famous passage concerning YAHUAH’s Name. Mosheh asked how he should respond when the people ask him “What is His Name?”
Shemoth/Exodus 3:14-15 - “And Elohim said to Mosheh, “I am that which I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
(15) And Elohim said further to Mosheh, “Thus you are to say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘יהוה Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Yitshaq, and the Elohim of Yaʽaqob, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations.’
Most Christian (and Messianic) translations say, “I am that/who I am.” This is a good translation of the Hebrew verb 'to be.'
However, most Hebrew/Jewish translations translate the Hebrew “ehyeh asher ehyeh” as “I will be that/who I will be.” Most acknowledge that “I will be” in the future tense is a more accurate rendering in English.
But then Elohim said further, “YAHUAH Elohim of your fathers…”
YAHUAH is the Name of the Most High Creator. It is Who He is. His very Being, His Essence, His Identity.
YAHUAH [יהוה] is all three tenses, “I was, I am, I will be.” He is the Unchanging, Ever-Present, Always-Existing One.
YAHUAH is set-apart completely. There is none to compare to Him. He is without beginning and without conclusion. His is the Power and the Rule over all created things. There is none like Him in all the world.
Knowing YAHUAH, the Unchanging, Forever-Existent One, and understanding Who He is, is emunah.
The Hebrews knew Him from their fathers, and now they know that the Ever-Present One has heard their cries. He is with them in distress, and He is able to deliver them from bondage.
Why then did YAHUAH begin with saying “I will be who I will be?”
YAHUAH was describing Himself in a manner that would increase their bitachon.
YAHUAH is unchanging; yet, how we perceive and understand Him changes. He reveals Himself to us in different ways depending on our need at the time and our level of spiritual understanding.
YAHUAH does not change, but He will change how He shows Himself to us.
When YAHUAH says “I will be,” He is saying, “I will be whatever you need.” He will be our Savior or our Protector, our Healer or our Provider, our Strength or our Comfort. Whatever we need, He will be.
YAHUAH was telling His people, "Don't worry. Trust me. I will do it. I will be your Deliverer."
This is bitachon - trusting YAHUAH for our future.
Whether it's 5 minutes from now, tomorrow, or next year, it is trusting that YAHUAH will do good for us.
Whatever you need, look to YAHUAH, the Ever-Present One, and He will be it.
We may not know how or why - just as Mosheh didn’t - but we need to know that He will.
No worries. No fears. No yes-but’s.