Hashem is Here, Hashem is There... by Ben Notis


When giving Eliezer, his servant, instructions as to how to choose a wife for Yitzchak, Avraham asks Eliezer to swear in the name of Hashem, not to choose for Yitzchak a Kana’anite wife (BeReishit 24:3). Later on, Avraham states that,“Hashem Elokei HaShamayim Asher Lekachani MiBeit Avi,” “Hashem the God of the heavens who took me out from the house of my father.” (BeReishit 24:7).

Rashi (ad. loc. s.v. “Hashem Elokei HaShamayim Asher Lekachani MiBeit Avi”), quoting BeReishit Rabbah, explains the difference between the two Pesukim. When Avraham talks about the God who takes him out from his father’s house, Avraham is referring to the incident in which Hashem tells him to leave Charan and go to Kena’an. At that time, Avraham and Sarah had not yet publicized the idea of monotheism; therefore, God, in the minds of the humans, was not the King of the Earth. On the other hand, when Hashem asks Eliezer to swear in the name of Hashem, God of the heavens and the earth, Avraham and Sarah had already taught many about the existence of the one Supreme Being, meaning that more humans had already believed in God, allowing Him to be a King over them.

It is possible to interpret this Derash, presented by Rashi, as saying that God only interacts with people when they believe in Him. This understanding presents an important issue: does Hashem exist on the earth at all times or only when many agree that He exists?

We can reconcile Rashi’s seemingly strange approach, which seems to counter mainstream Jewish thought. by claiming that God is and always has been omnipresent, existing in Heaven and on Earth, despite what people may have believed. What changed from the period before Man believed in one God to the period when Man did believe in one God was Man’s perspective on God, not God’s existence. God seems to be only in heaven, an unreachable. But this is only when our lack of Emunah, faith, prevents Him from entering the Aretz, the physical realm of earth. Once we allow Hashem to enter the Aretz, we can see that Hashem has always been the God of the heavens, as well as the earth.

Everyone at some point or another struggles with Emunah. However, God does not have to be unreachable, staying exclusively in the classroom or Shul. Though at times He seems to be away from us, God is always part of the breathtakingly beautiful physical world.

Characteristic Perfection by Shmuel Katz

“A Rose Among Thorns” by Benjy Shulman