Parshas Vaera begins with Hashem's response to Moshe's question, "Why have You made things worse for this nation (the Jewish people)?" In other words, Hashem sent Moshe on a mission to Egypt to begin the redemption, and things only got worse. How is it possible for Hashem's mission to make things worse for the Jewish people? Hashem, Who is all good, is sending Moshe, who is all good, on a mission to start the redemption, which is supposed to be a good thing, and it only became worse for the Jewish people. How is that possible?
Hashem responds, "I Am Hashem. And I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov..."
Our sages say that this was a rebuke to Moshe, that Hashem was saying that the forefathers were tested over and over again, and they didn't ask Me "why?" They just accepted My will and they didn't question. You, on the other hand...
We have to understand, why, in fact, did Moshe ask, "Why have You made things worse for this nation?" Moshe was at a higher level than the forefathers, he was the one who received the Torah directly from Hashem. He was the seventh in line from Avraham, and our sages say, "all sevenths are favorites." So how could Moshe, who was so great, be questioning Hashem?
Also, if Hashem wanted to extol the virtues of the forefathers, why does He call Yaakov by his lower name Yaakov, instead of his greater name Yisrael?
And finally, every story in the Torah is meant to be a lesson to every one of us. It seems from here, that we are meant to choose between our forefathers and Moshe our teacher, and that we should choose the way of our forefathers over Moshe. How could it be that we are meant to choose between our forefathers and Moshe? How can it be, that we are not meant to choose the way of Moshe, rather the ways of our forefathers?
To understand this, we first have to understand the difference between the service to Hashem of our forefathers and Moshe.
Moshe's served Hashem through chochma, wisdom, as he was the teacher of Torah to the Jewish people. Torah is the greatest wisdom that exists, it can only be understood with the mind, therefore, it was given through Moshe, whose way was through wisdom.
The forefathers service to Hashem was through their emotions. Avraham's emotion was chesed, loving-kindness, his service to Hashem was through love. Yitzchak's emotion was gevurah, strength and discipline, his service to Hashem was through fear and awe. Yaakov's emotion was tiferes, beauty, which is the ability to know when to apply chesed and when to apply gevurah, it is a mix of the two. Beauty is a blend of features, sharp and soft. His service to Hashem was through love and fear.
Of course the forefathers also had wisdom, they studied Torah, and Moshe had emotions, as we see in the story of the Egyptian taskmaster beating the Jew, and the two Jews fighting, it really bothered him, and he sprung into action. However the main thrust of their service to Hashem, was for the forefathers, through their emotions, and for Moshe, through his intellect.
Since Moshe served Hashem through wisdom, and Hashem's actions posed a question that bothered him, he couldn't continue until his question was answered. That was the way he served Hashem.
The forefathers, on the other hand, served Hashem through their emotions, they felt what Hashem wanted and they did it, questions of why Hashem did something, didn't stand in their way of them serving Hashem.
One of the differences between emotions and wisdom, is that emotions are a direct cause to an action, you feel like doing something and you do it. On the other hand, wisdom, doesn't cause direct action, it really doesn't have an effect on one's actions at all, only when the wisdom is applied to the emotions, does it result in an action through the emotions. That is why you see very smart people who are in the clouds unaware of reality, and other smart people that do the stupidest things, because their wisdom is aloof and detached.
When Hashem said to Moshe, "I Am Hashem. And I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak and to Yaakov..." He was telling Moshe, that with the redemption, a new mode of service is needed, and it will include the path of our forefathers as well as the path of Moshe, wisdom and emotions.
The main reason for the Exodus, was to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Midrash tells us that what happened at the giving of the Torah, was that, "What is above could now go below, and what is below could now go above." Before the giving of the Torah, spiritual and physical didn't mix, G-dliness remained above, meaning separate, it wasn't able to permeate the physical. With the giving of the Torah, all that changed, now the spiritual can permeate the physical and that is the main service of the Jewish people, to infuse the physical with G-dliness through using the physical for Torah and mitzvahs, and to serve Hashem.
This was also true when it came to emotions and wisdom. "What is above could now go below," meaning that wisdom, which resides in the brain, above, has to permeate the emotions, which reside in the heart, below. And it works the opposite way as well, "What is below could now go above," that wisdom should be affected by the emotions, and accept the will of Hashem without question.
Hashem is not asking of us to choose our forefathers over Moshe, rather, to mesh the two, and serve Hashem through both wisdom and emotions.
Now we will understand why Hashem uses the name Yaakov here. Yaakov is the name that represents permeating the physical world with G-dliness. Yaakov could be divided into yud eikev, yud stands for Hashem, above, and eikev, which means a heel, the lowest part of a person, meaning, that the lowest place should be permeated with G-dliness, the emotions should be affected by wisdom.
The lesson here for us is that it is not enough to serve Hashem through our nature, rather the business man should set times to study Torah, below should come above, and the scholar has to be involved with the needs of the layman, above should go below.
We see that Moshe took upon himself this way of life, although he was the greatest in wisdom, he was involved in the day to day lives of the Jewish people. He brought his intellect into his emotions and into action. He did exactly what Hashem was telling him in this parsha.
This is often our challenge, and this is my challenge as well. How do we reconcile our sense of right and wrong with Hashem's ways? We all are trying to do our best, and we all suffer beyond what makes sense to us. Why do we need to suffer so much? On one hand, we have to accept Hashem's ways, on the other hand, we need to learn from Moshe, to ask and demand, that things should get better for us and the entire Jewish nation once and for all.
I am certain that Hashem put me in this position for a reason, and I accept His will, but at the same time, I see how much my wife and children are suffering and I am suffering too. I can't bare to see it, so I ask and pray that the suffering stop.
We each have our mission to infuse the physical world with G-dliness, however, we must also feel the pain of our brothers and sisters, and ask, pray and even demand, that Hashem send Moshiach and bring an end to this exile, and our suffering once and for all. May it happen soon.