D’u ki Hashem Hu Elokim, He asanu v’lo anachnu – amo v’tzon mar’iso.
(And you should) know that Hashem is the all-powerful and all-able One; He made (created) us and we are His, (with the special distinction that we are) His nation and the sheep that He takes care of.
Know that Hashem, He is Elokim: These words are so crucially important that we will devote this entire segment to them.
Speaking about “dei’ah,” the Gemara in N’darim 41a states: “One who has it [dei’ah] in him, has everything; one who does not have it in him, what does he have?”
The Gemara in B’rachos 33a states: “Any man who has “dei’ah” within him, it is as if the Beis HaMikdash was built in his day.”
What does “dei’ah” mean, and why is it of such magnitude, that if we have it, we have everything, and if we don’t, we have nothing?
HaRav Yechiel Perr shlita (Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshiva of Far Rockaway) related that he once visited someone who escaped Auschwitz. He asked the man a question with the word “know” in it, and the man rhetorically asked Rav Perr: “What does it mean to know?”
He then related to Rav Perr that, after he escaped, he wanted to help save thousands of Jews. He was able to get someone to help him dress up like a priest and get an audience with the Bishop, who had the power to save many thousands of Jews. At the meeting with the Bishop, he related the horrific, detailed description of what was happening inside the concentration camp. Every now and then, the Bishop would exclaim, “oh, so terrible.” However, the man said that he saw that he was not getting through. He then related to the Bishop that he saw someone dressed exactly like the Bishop, describing every detail of how the Bishop was dressed. He then graphically illustrated how they had placed this man in a box and burned him alive. Upon hearing this, the Bishop fainted. He was revived and he fainted again. When he was finally revived and he recovered, at that point he “knew.” He did not “know” before that point. But after envisioning himself in the box, he “knew.” If I recall correctly, 200,000 Jews were saved.
HaRav Avigdor Miller zt”l writes that “dei’ah” means “true sensory awareness” or “emotional recognition” (of Hashem). “Dei’ah” will impact our thoughts, speech, and actions. If we have true awareness of Hashem, we have everything, because dei’ah will lead us to Torah, mitzvos, treating our brothers and sisters with love and respect, not speaking negatively of others, honesty and integrity, and working on refining our character traits.
Getting back to our clause of “D’u ki Hashem Hu Elokim,” we are calling out to others (and certainly to ourselves) to “KNOW” that Hashem is Elokim. What does this mean?
“Hashem” is The Name we are not permitted to pronounce as it is spelled. This Name represents Hashem’s Essence, which we know nothing about other than that He is Master of all creation, and He is existence, meaning: There is no existence independent of Him. This Name represents the hidden.
“Elokim” refers to the revealed. Hashem is revealed only through His conduct, control, and guidance of the world at large, and of every aspect of what happens to B’nei Yisrael and each one of us individually.
“Elokim” also means Power. Hashem is The Power behind all other powers in nature. The sun, wind, rain, and other forces of nature are only vehicles through which Hashem’s will is carried out. This is evident in the second brachah of the Shemoneh Esrei, where many words begin with the Hebrew letter “mem,” which indicates that it is Hashem Who is the driving force. Two examples are:
- Mashiv ha’ruach u’morid ha’geshem – Hashem is the One Who makes the wind blow and the rain come down. Every gust of wind comes from Hashem. He decides where it will blow and how strong. He alone decides which trees will come down in a storm, where they will fall, and whether they will cause damage or not. Every drop of rain comes down where and when Hashem commands. He alone decides which crops will flourish and which will not.
- M’chalkeil chayim b’chesed – Hashem is the One Who brings each creation the sustenance it needs through His kindness.
Here, in this pasuk, we are reminding ourselves and calling out to others to “KNOW” that the same Hashem Who is the Master of all creation is the One and only Power Who is All-powerful and All-capable, and Who watches over every aspect of our lives, both nationally and individually.
The rest of the pasuk completes this thought. He created us, we are His, we are His nation, and He takes care of us like a shepherd takes care of sheep. We will, b’ezras Hashem, discuss this second half of the pasuk in further detail next week.
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