Knowing Hashem by Aaron Frazer


           As the process which will result in Yetzias Mitzrayim is just beginning, Hashem tells Moshe to speak to the downtrodden Jewish slaves, and describe to them Hashem's aims in redeeming them (שמות ו:ו-ח').  After laying out the steps of His plan, through the famous  ארבע לשונות של גאולה, four descriptions of stages in the process of redemption, Hashem states as the final goal of the Geulah, "וידעתם כי אני ה' א-לוקיכם המוציא אתכם מתחת סבלות מצרים," meaning, "and you will know that I am Hashem your G-d who takes you out from under the oppression of Egypt" (שם פסוק ז').  Hashem's overall purpose in rescuing the Jews and establishing them as His nation in Eretz Yisrael is to have them "know" Him.  But what does it really mean to "know" Hashem?

            The word ",לדעת" which is generally translated as "to know," also has a much more powerful meaning.  It sometimes refers specifically to the relationship between a husband and a wife, the most intimate "knowledge" possible between two people.  For example, the Torah tells us that והאדם ידע את חוה אשתו"," Adam "knew" his wife Chavah, meaning that they engaged in marital relations (בראשית ד:א).  If we interpret the word וידעתם"" in our Posuk in this context, we see that Hashem's real aim, expressed by this word, was to take Bnai Yisrael as His nation in a relationship which would parallel that of a husband and wife.

            One major aspect of such a relationship is that it is exclusive.  The Gemara in Kiddushin  (דף ב:) tells us, in explaining why the word "קידושין" is used to indicate an engagement, that when a man takes a wife, he renders her forbidden to all others, just as one who dedicates an item to the Beis HaMikdash (הקדש) renders it forbidden to all others.  As such, to build a proper marriage with the Jews, Hashem first had to take them away from the society of Mitzrayim, and away from





being servants of Paroh, so that they could be exclusive servants of Hashem.  Only in the absence of outside interference could they come to fully "know" Hashem, and for this reason, He then took them specifically to a מדבר, a wilderness devoid of any civilization, where He gave them the Torah, which would serve as their greatest vehicle to knowledge of Hashem.  It is no accident that the giving of the Torah is portrayed by the Midrash as the marriage of Hashem and the Jews.  If this is so, Yetzias Mitzrayim can be viewed as the engagement.

            This depiction of the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish nation as one of marriage is a theme which recurs throughout Tanach.  Hosheia the Navi, for example, rebukes the Jewish people, who are soon to be sent into exile for abandoning Hashem, by comparing their behavior to that of an unfaithful wife.  Hashem, the husband, desires nothing more than to repair His relationship with them, and to that end  He plans to take them out into a desert, away from all others, and have a "second honeymoon" to rekindle their love, as described by the Pesukim there (הושע ב:י"ז-כ"ב).  Just as He did during Yetzias Mitzrayim, and just as every husband does when he takes a wife, Hashem will separate the Jews from the outside world, so that He may build a relationship with them.  Only when they are alone can they truly "know" each other.

            Actually, at the end of Hashem's message to the Jews about Yetzias Mitzrayim, there is a fifth reference to Geulah.  The Posuk says: והבאתי אתכם אל הארץ"," promising that Hashem will bring the Jews to Eretz Yisrael (שמות שם פסוק ח').  This is generally considered to be in a separate category from the other four, perhaps because it seems to be contingent on the Jews' submission to "knowing" Hashem.  Hashem will take them out of Egypt, relieve them of slavery, and even take them as His people without making any demands, but once He does so, he will not fully redeem them by bringing them to the Land unless they agree to have a bilateral, exclusive relationship with Him.

            To have a meaningful relationship with Hashem is to have a meaningful relationship with Hashem and no other.  If we live our lives dedicated exclusively to knowing Hashem, we can be sure that our relationship with Him will improve to the point that we will once again merit " אל הארץוהבאתי אתכם."

Hashem's Name by Rabbi Michael Taubes

Plans For the Future by Alex Gildin