Who Am I?

  • Parshas Ki Tetze - Rabbi Yossi Goldman
Do you remember your first epiphany in life? Moses had his at the burning bush.
by Rabbi Yossy Goldman, Sydenham Shul | Jan 16, 2020

G-d calls upon the young shepherd to go back to Egypt and redeem his people. The mission is to face up to Pharaoh himself, and deliver the L-rd’s famous stirring message, “Let my people go!”

But the humble Moses is a reluctant leader. He looks for all sorts of reasons as to why he is unworthy of the task. At one point, he asks the almighty, “Who shall I say sent me? What is your name?”

Now, we are familiar with many names of G-d, but the one he now gives Moses is puzzling and enigmatic, mysterious and mystical – “I shall be as I shall be.” Strange name for a supreme being.

Here is one powerful explanation.

The significance of this name is that it’s posed in the future tense. “I shall be as I shall be.” Moses was asking the ultimate existential question. How do I call you, G-d? “What is your name” means how are you to be identified and understood? How can finite, mortal man come to know the infinite being?

G-d’s answer was, “I shall be as I shall be” – future tense. You want to know me, Moses? I’m afraid you’ll have to wait. We cannot necessarily understand G-d by what has happened in the past, nor even the present. When we stare life in the face, we experience tremendous difficulty in grasping the almighty’s vast eternal plan.

To truly understand the infinite G-d takes infinite patience. One day, somewhere down the line, He will make himself known to us.

Only then, will we come to really know him and his inscrutable ways.

Don’t we all ask Moses’ question at times? Why is there tragedy in the world? Why is there so much human suffering, pain and agony, so much tzorris (trouble) to contend with? How many families have been torn apart in Israel through war and terrorism? How many individuals do we know who have experienced personal tragedy in their lives? Why, we cry. Why?

Right at the very beginning of Jewish history, G-d spoke to Moses and said to him upfront, “I know you want to be able to understand me and my ways, but please accept that it’s impossible – for now. I shall be as I shall be.” One day, you will be able to know me. Not today, nor tomorrow, nor even the day after, but one day in the future everything will make sense and be understood. Ultimately, in time, all will be known.

In the meantime, we live with faith, trust, hope, and lots of patience as we see destiny unfolding and we aren’t quite sure what to make of it. One awesome day in the future, the almighty’s great name will be known and understood, and we will see with our own eyes of flesh that G-d is good, and his 


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