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Kedushat Levi on Torah, God, Pesach, and becoming

Here's a teaching from Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev about Passover, becoming, understanding God and understanding Torah, all sparked by the verse (Exodus 3:14) "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh / I will be what I will be."

God, he writes, led us forth from Mitzrayim for two reasons: in order that we might serve God and in order that we might receive Torah. Given this, we might imagine it fitting that right after the Exodus, we would immediately have received the Torah -- but the Holy One of Blessing "passed over" or skipped the receiving of the Torah, presumably because in the immediate aftermath of the Exodus, the Israelites weren't ready to receive Torah yet, and wouldn't become so until they'd undergone all of the experiences of the wilderness which helped transform them from slaves into people who were capable of holy service. (We recapitulate this in our practice today, as we spend the seven weeks after Pesach moving through the Counting of the Omer and spiritually preparing ourselves to receive Torah at Shavuot -- we're not ready to re-experience the revelation of Torah at Sinai until we've done some spiritual work, ourselves.)

Kedushat Levi suggests that because God "passed over" the revelation of the Torah, choosing to skip it and come back to it later when we were ready, that's why this holiday is called Pesach, Pass-Over. (That's not the traditional explanation for the name, but I like it.) Anyway: he says that the first Ehyeh ("I Will Be") in God's name speaks in terms of the future, in terms of becoming: that which has not yet come to pass.

We also read in Torah (Exodus 20:2) "I am Hashem Your God who brought you out of Egypt." One might reasonably ask: why doesn't the text say "Who created heavens and earth?" (In other words: when the Aseret Ha-Dibrot / Ten Utterances were given over, why didn't God say "I am Adonai Your God Who created all things" -- why did God choose to introduce God's-self through the story of the Exodus?) The answer, Reb Levi Yitzchak says, is that in the time when the 10 Utterances were first received, the children of Israel could only understand God through their experience of the Exodus. They weren't capable of understanding God as the force behind all creation.

The Zohar teaches us that "Torah and the Holy Blessed One are one." (Zohar Chadash 3:3) At the time when the 10 utterances were spoken, the Israelites understood God through their experience of the Exodus; and since the Torah is a mystical expression of God, the Israelites understood Torah through their experience of the Exodus too. They could only understand God, and Torah, through the lens of the liberation which they themselves had experienced.

Some day the Holy Blessed One will make miracles for us and wonders beyond counting. At that time, we'll be able to understand the blessed Creator in a higher way. Which means we'll also understand Torah in a higher way. As Isaiah has written (51:4), "A new Torah will go forth from Me."

When God redeems us, and makes new miracles and wonders for us, we will come to understand not only the "old Torah" which we received long ago, but also that new Torah which is continually flowing-forth from God. And that will create great divine pleasure -- and that  ultimate Becoming which will be our redemption is hinted at by the second Ehyeh in God's Name. This, says Levi Yitzchak, is the real meaning of "I Will Be What I Will Be:" the first "I Will Be" reminds us to look to the future which hasn't yet unfolded, and the second one hints at a future redemption when we will understand new revelations which we haven't yet wholly received.