At the end of last week's Parsha, Moshe questions Hashem's treatment of the people and His apparent indifference concerning their salvation. Hashem responds to Moshe, telling him that he will now see what will happen to Paroh and that the people will, indeed, leave Mitzraim. Our Parsha seems to continue with the response given to Moshe. In 6:2 Hashem identifies Himself to Moshe as Yud-Kei-Vav-Kei. Rashi, on this Pasuk, explains that this corresponds to a certain aspect of Hashem. Rashi points out that whenever the Torah uses the expression of "Ani Hashem" in this form, Hashem wants to tell us that He can be trusted to fulfill His promises. He will reward the righteous and punish the wicked. In 6:3 through 6:6 Hashem tells Moshe that the Avot knew Hashem only through the name "Shakkai" and not through the name revealed to Moshe. Hashem tells Moshe that He made a Brit with the Avot, He hears the people's crying, and He will now save them. On these Pasukim, Rashi explains that the Avot knew Hashem as the Maker of a covenant, but not as the Keeper of a covenant. Apparently, for the Avot, being with Hashem was "enough" - "Dai." On account of the promises made to the Avot concerning their children, Hashem, upon hearing the people's cries, will now save them as promised. Moshe will now be privileged to see the fulfillment of promises and hence will experience Hashem as the Keeper of His word, something the Avot had not witnessed.
The Ramban, after discussing linguistic objections to Rashi, quotes the Ibn Ezra. The Ibn Ezra says that the Avot experienced Hashem in a natural way. There were no displays of miraculous events at which all could marvel. Examining the lives of the Avot surely reveals colossal turns of events but these are known to be "hidden miracles" as opposed to "open miracles." Miracles that are hidden operate within the confines of nature and thus are disguised. Miracles that are open operate outside the confines of nature and are thus spectacular. Moshe was now going to be privileged to experience Hashem through these open miracles. The Ramban seems to adopt the Ibn Ezra's view for the most part, objecting only to his description of the exact method through which the Avot knew Hashem.
In his essays on Chumash, Rav Kanotopsky zt"l seems to merge these two explanations by using an apparently "innocent" remark made by Rashi. In 6:3, Rashi, instead of naming the Avot individually, merely uses the word, "Avot." Rabbi Kanotopsky believes that Rashi is delivering an important message. Each one of the Avot became an "Av" at a particular time in their lives. Hashem revealed Himself and formed a unique bond with each one. He explains that at each of these moments, when each became an "Av," the name "Shakkai" was used. For Avraham and Yaakov, that moment was when their names were changed; for Yitzchak, the moment was at the Akeidah, despite the lack of the formal usage of this name of Hashem. They each found Hashem through intense personal experiences. Hashem, in a sense, dealt with the Avot as their father. A father's word is good enough merely because he is your father. The relationship carries with it a feeling of trust, as Rashi would say about Hashem. A father brings up his child in a certain environment and, in effect, is controlling things behind the scenes. All parents do this for their children. Hashem surely did this for the Avot through hidden miracles, as the Ibn Ezra says. As Rashi points out, they are not merely Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov . . . they are the Avot. This brings along with it a fatherly relationship with Hashem. Moshe, on the other hand, was to be the vehicle through which the Torah would be given. Since the Torah transcends nature, Hashem revealed Himself to Moshe through grand miracles. Moshe was not an "Av." Moshe was a "Rav" and therefore needed to become the ultimate prophet and transmitter of Torah. The implication and message for us as a people is rather sweeping. Rashi dealt with the issue of seeing Hashem fulfill His promises. The Ibn Ezra and the Ramban dealt with actually seeing Hashem in the world around us. Every day of our lives Hashem lets us see Him, to experience Him, in some way. Is Hashem keeping His promises to us? Rashi advises us to be patient. We need to look to the Avot as role models in this area. Keeping the "big picture" in mind, we can trust in long term results when immediate ones are not forthcoming. Where is Hashem? We often look and are left alone. The Ramban and the Ibn Ezra give us advice to open our eyes and see Hashem everywhere. Do not look for Hashem only during triumph and tragedy! If you truly want to see Him, just take out the receipt that says the universe will be here five minutes from now. The lack of such a receipt should make us aware of Hashem's constant, all-encompassing presence.
By utilizing these ideas, may we all merit and appreciate further exposure to and understanding of Hashem.