Candle lighting time this week in NYC: 4:31 PM
This week’s Torah portion opens with the verse, "I revealed Myself to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya'akov with the name EL SHADAI, but with My name "ADONOY" ("Havayeh"), I did not become known to them."
Why did the Torah stress the negative here - that G-d did not reveal Himself to the patriarchs with His True Name "Havayeh"? What lesson could we learn from this negative statement?
The redemption from Egypt was primarily a spiritual freedom that enabled a Jew to serve G-d without interference from gentile nations. Of course, the redemption from physical servitude is not insignificant, but in the ultimate scheme of things, the physical redemption occurred to make the spiritual redemption possible.
What, exactly, is a spiritual redemption?
The Alter Rebbe explains that this is the ability to serve G-d with total commitment to the extent that a person has no private agenda. A person can't achieve this level unassisted. So long as the person is working independently, everything he does is ultimately an extension of his "private agenda." Even if he decides to become totally committed to G-d, it was his personal decision and, thus, in the final analysis, his private agenda.
To become genuinely committed to G-d, one needs G-d's assistance. Thus, the Exodus from Egypt would be a proper spiritual redemption because it would involve Divine aid from above.
This thought, however, begs the question: Surely the patriarchs were also privileged to receive Divine revelation, so why do we still need the spiritual redemption from Egypt?
Therefore, G-d was telling Moshe that it is only through a revelation of Havayeh - a name that represents G-d as He transcends all limits - that a person can become truly committed to G-d beyond the limits of his own personal agenda.
And so too it will be with the true and complete redemption, when we will be genuinely free to serve G-d, as the earth will be filled with the knowledge of Havayeh like water covers the seabed.