Parasha Inspiration – Shemot

וַיֵּרָ֠א מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֵלָ֛יו בְּלַבַּת־אֵ֖שׁ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֑ה וַיַּ֗רְא וְהִנֵּ֤ה הַסְּנֶה֙ בֹּעֵ֣ר בָּאֵ֔שׁ וְהַסְּנֶ֖ה אֵינֶ֥נּוּ אֻכָּֽל: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר משֶׁ֔ה אָסֻֽרָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה אֶת־הַמַּרְאֶ֥ה הַגָּדֹ֖ל הַזֶּ֑ה מַדּ֖וּעַ לֹֽא־יִבְעַ֥ר הַסְּנֶֽה: וַיַּ֥רְא יְהֹוָ֖ה כִּ֣י סָ֣ר לִרְא֑וֹת וַיִּקְרָא֩ אֵלָ֨יו אֱלֹהִ֜ים מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֗ה וַיֹּ֛אמֶר משֶׁ֥ה משֶׁ֖ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי:

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within the thorn bush, and behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not being consumed. So Moses said, “Let me turn now and see this great spectacle why does the thorn bush not burn up?” he Lord saw that he had turned to see, and God called to him from within the thorn bush, and He said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am!” –

Exodus 3:2-4

This week we begin the book of Exodus. In this week’s parasha, we find a bit of wording which at first may seem rather difficult. In verse two, a messenger of Hashem, an Angel, appears to Moses from the burning bush. In verse four, Hashem speaks to Moses from the bush. So, who is in the bush? Is it the messenger of Hashem, or is it Hashem Himself?

This can seem confusing, particularly if one’s view is that the answer must be one or the other. How could the answer be otherwise? The key is in understanding this insight into the plurality of God.

Apparently, Hashem appears to Moses in the guise of a messenger, Angel. Is it possible that Hashem could be an Angel? It is evident the Torah is providing us an example of just such an event. Hashem can appear as an Angel. In Jewish thought, this Angel, who is Hashem himself, is known as Metatron.

This instance in Torah begs the question, how can Hashem be Hashem and be an Angel? We know that Hashem is one and his Name is one. Yet, Torah indicates here that Hashem can appear as an Angel. Understanding this machaloket is key to understanding the nature of God. Yes, Hashem is one. But, Hashem appears to us in various forms. This is known as the plurality of God. Here, in Exodus 3:2-4, Hashem appears as the Angel Metatron.

Being confronted with the reality of the plurality of God begs yet another question. If Hashem can be an Angel, can Hashem be a man? The evidence of the plurality of God is incontrovertible. Therefore, the answer must be yes. If Hashem can appear as an Angel, he can appear as a man.

The question of the divinity of the Messiah, Yeshua, comes up routinely in discussions within Messianic Judaism. The question only arises because of the lack of understanding of the plurality of Hashem. This week’s parsha includes a Torah example of plurality that is undeniable. If Hashem can be Metatron, Hashem can be Yeshua. Shabbat shalom.


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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.