Kicking it Up a Notch

Quick Comment, Parashat Vaera (Exodus 6:2-9:35)

One of the early superstars of the current “cooking show” TV craze was Emeril Lagasse. He called adding a new spice to a dish by his trademark phrase: “Kicking it up a notch.”

At the beginning of this week’s portion the Eternal one tells Moses’ that he will perceive God by a new name.

We should be careful not to read too much or too little into the declaration: “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai but by my name YHVH I was not known to them (Exodus 6:3).”

We should not read too much into this passage because we have already seen this “new” name more than 200 times in the Bible.

It is the name of the same God who charged Abraham and his descendants to “be a blessing,” (Genesis 12:2) “walk in My ways,”(Genesis 17:1) and fill the world with “righteousness and justice.” (Genesis 18:19)

But we should not make too little of the fact that with these words God is “kicking it up a notch” with Moses. Their relationship is unique.

Only with Moses does God go to war to bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Only with Moses does God commune at Sinai to concretize the covenantal generalities spoken to Abraham into specific commandments. Only because of Moses entreaties does God decide not to destroy the Children of Israel after they made the golden calf (Exodus 32:10; Deuteronomy 9:14) and after the spies urged the people to return to slavery in Egypt (Numbers 14:12).

The Torah concludes by emphasizing: “There has never again arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses that knew God so directly (Deuteronomy 34:10).”

Yes, it is the same God, but with Moses, the Eternal One has unquestionably, “kicked it up a notch.”