Two Names for Two Brothers
Translation and commentary by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky,
for "The Chumash of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
"Aaron and Moses...Moses and Aaron."
(from Rashi on Ex. 6:26: This was the Aaron and Moses...)
Kabbala teaches that Moses and Aaron personify the two
divine names Havayah and Elo-him, respectively. The name
Havayah signifies G-d's transcendence, while the name Elo-him
signifies His immanence within Creation. The allusion to these two names
in both orders refers to the experience of the union of these two names,
i.e. the consciousness that G-d's transcendence informs His immanence.
There are two ways we can experience this consciousness:
as a gift from G-d, or as a result of our own efforts. The former experience is more
transcendent, but the latter permeates our consciousness more thoroughly
and permanently. Both are therefore necessary and would form a part
of the giving of the Torah.
The phrase "Aaron and Moses" (referring to their
order of birth) alludes to the way G-d confers this consciousness upon
us, descending "naturally". The phrase "Moses and Aaron"
(referring to their spiritual makeup) alludes to the permanence of divine
consciousness we attain when we achieve it on our own.
"Moses made a mark on the wall where the sun had
cast a shadow"
(Rashi on 9:18: Behold, at this time tomorrow I shall rain a
very heavy hail...)
The uniqueness of the plague of hail was its blend of
divine mercy and judgment. Allegorically, the sun alludes to the name
Havayah and the wall to the name Elo-him. This plague
was thus triggered by the unification of
G-d's attributes of mercy and severe judgment, which are signified by
these two names respectively. Similarly, although this was a particularly
severe plague, as indicated in the harsh warning preceding it, this
very warning included merciful instructions how to avert it. Also, the
hail itself comprised both water and fire, which correlate to the divine
attributes of mercy and judgment.
[Finally, the name Havayah transcends time, while
the name Elo-him signifies G-d's presence contracted into nature,
including time. So, inasmuch as this plague, like all the plagues, manifested
the name Havayah, the fact that it was timed precisely further
indicates that it embodied the union of the names Havayah and
Copyright 2001 chabad of california / www.lachumash.org
Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky is a scholar, writer, editor
and anthologist. Originally from Los Angeles, he moved to Israel in
1977, and currently lives in Jerusalem. While living in Tsfat, he was
one of the three founders of ASCENT in 1983.