Hashem Echad U’Sh’mo Echad
V’hayah Hashem l’melech al kol ha’aretz; ba’yom ha’hu yihyeh Hashem echad u’shmo echad.
Then Hashem will be King over all the world; on that day Hashem will be One and His Name will be One.
We conclude Az Yashir with the same words with which we end the tefilah of Aleinu. What do these four words, which seem to represent our greatest yearning in life, actually mean?
Rashi (Zechariah 14:9) writes that it means that at the time of our ultimate redemption, may it come speedily in our days, all the nations of the world will forsake their false gods and proclaim in unison only the Name of Hashem. They will acknowledge that there is no other Power aside from Hashem.
Radak quotes a second understanding from the Ibn Ezra (HeChacham Rav Avraham ibn Ezra, 1089-1167). He writes that, at the time of the g’ulah, all will say the four-letter Name of Hashem that today may not be pronounced. This Name of Hashem signifies the attribute of compassion. Until the ultimate redemption, we see rachamim (compassion) and din (judgment) as two separate attributes. We see the actions that result from those as coming from two separate attributes, even though we know there is only one Hashem. Din is painful. Rachamim is pleasant.
At the time of the g’ulah, we will understand that all of Hashem’s actions in the world stem from His attribute of rachamim. A father must at times discipline and deliver consequences and punishments to his children. But he does so out of love and compassion, and not out of anger. Parental love and compassion can one day deliver kisses and hugs, and another day deliver punishment and consequences as part of helping the child to learn and grow. The same is true with Hashem. Everything is decided upon and administered by Hashem out of His great love for us. Today, we are not on the level to integrate this deep enough in ourselves to be able to make the brachah of HaTov v’HaMeitiv on pain.
The Ramban had a talmid who was deathly ill. He asked the student to promise that he would come back to him if he died and tell him why he had to die so young, as he was apparently such a special talmid. After his death, the student came to the Ramban in a dream. He told the Ramban: I was permitted to come back to you but I am not permitted to tell you why I died young. However, I can tell you that when a person comes up after death, there simply are no more questions. Everything becomes crystal clear.
After the g’ulah, we will be able to pronounce the four-letter Name of Hashem and make the brachah of HaTov v’HaMeitiv even on painful situations. All will be clear. That is the day we yearn for, when Hashem’s Name will be One. All will recognize clearly that all Hashem did was out of love and compassion for our ultimate benefit and good. Today we live with the belief that “Kol d’avid Rachamana, l’tav avid” (All that is being done by Hashem is [out of love and compassion] for our ultimate good). In the future, we will see it clearly.
At the highest levels of love for Hashem, one is able to even thank Hashem and increase his or her love for Him even as He is delivering painful situations to them. The M’silas Y’sharim (Perek 19) goes even as far as to say that those on the highest levels are joyful when they incur pain, as it gives them an opportunity to demonstrate to Hashem their intense love for Him. The Rambam (Hilchos T’shuvah 10:3) writes that, at the highest levels of loving Hashem, one is totally preoccupied with love of Hashem to the exclusion of all else. He calls it a great, extraordinary, powerful, extreme love.
These levels are not for the vast majority of people. In fact, many ask how we can even be commanded to have a specific emotion. To answer this question, which will help those who have difficulty with even the basics of loving Hashem, the Chafetz Chaim said that one who yearns to love Hashem, but doesn’t know how, is already considered as loving Hashem (at least on some level). When we say the Shema and recite the pasuk of V’ahavta, regardless of what level we are currently at, or even if we have no idea how to love Hashem, we can at least yearn. We can think: “Hashem, I so much want to love You (at the highest levels) but don’t know how (Please help me one day to love You and reach those highest levels).” He also writes that one who recites this pasuk in Shema without even thinking about loving Hashem is as if they are testifying falsely.
May we merit to yearn for and see the day when all will recognize Hashem as the One and only King whose great love and compassion is behind all that He does in the world and in our individual lives.
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.