February 26, 2024 -

Small enough to know you. Large enough to serve you.

I Will Be That Which I Will Be (Shemot 01/06/24)

“I Will Be That Which I Will Be”

In this week’s Torah reading, Shemot, Moses encounters God. Lured in by the “burning bush,” God tells Moses that he wants him to bring the Hebrew slaves forth from Egypt and learn how to serve God on this mountain.

Moses, estranged from his Jewish family since he was an infant, asks the obvious question:

“When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is God’s name?’ what shall I say to them?”

Now, we are already a whole book into the Torah. Between Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Jacob, God has been known by many names:

Elohim

YHVH

El

Shadai

Yet, now we learn of a name or characterization of God that we have yet to hear. Furthermore, it’s the only time in the Torah that this name is employed:

“And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,” continuing, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’”

“Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh” literally means, “I will be that which I will be.” It’s famously been translated into English as “I am that I am.”

A scholarly approach might say that this text is old and unique, and comes from a source separate from other parts of the Torah. Simply though, I would say it was a name that the enslaved Jewish people needed to know. It was a name that would give them hope.

The very beginning of the Torah informs us that humans were created in the image of the Divine. We have attributes and a creative nature comparable to God. If God’s name implies infinite possibilities, that’s a quality share. Consequently, inspirational teacher Wayne Dyer’s interpretation of this name makes sense:

“God said, “I am that I am.” You too, have been bestowed with the I am legacy. You can make the choice to reprogram your imagination to take you where you intend to be: in the now. Creation originates in the world of Spirit—or, to say it differently, your imagination is the Source of all that has yet to manifest for you. By staying only with what your senses tell you is your reality, you place a barrier to letting your imagination create all that you wish, all that you desire. Your imagination is unlimited. What is today is restricted by just that: what is today. Albert Einstein made this astute observation: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Your logic—that is, the facts that you’ve accepted as true—have gotten you to point B. Now you’re going to reprogram your imagination to take you everywhere—everywhere that you are brave enough to envision for yourself.”[1]

At this time, the Jewish people were held captive by the mightiest empire on the face of the earth. As the Haggadah says, “And if the Holy One, blessed be He, had not taken our ancestors from Egypt, behold we and our children and our children’s children would all be enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt.” Reality said we are stuck here forever. God told them they could be free and masters of their own will.

“I will be that which I shall be” also tells us that life is not about discovering ourselves but creating ourselves. We choose our destiny. This name empowers us to recreate and renew ourselves constantly.

Parsha Shemot introduces us to a new name for God. One that enabled an enslaved people to see a grander future. That name continues to guide and inspire us to take on new roles and achievements today.

Have a creative week,

R’ Neil

[1] Dyer, Wayne W. Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting (p. 77). Hay House. Kindle Edition.

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