פרשת יתרו

I the Lord am your God אנכי ה׳ אלהיך

It does not say I א-נ-י [rather I א-נ-כ-י], for if it was written I אני, this would indicate that God revealed to Israel the entirety of His light. They would not be able to further delve into His words, for He had already revealed everything. The letter kaf כ INDICATES that the revelation is not complete and is only a semblance of and reference to the light that God will reveal in the future.

All that a person further acquires and uncovers in her understanding of Torah highlights that what she understood until now is as if it was shrouded in darkness, as is seen with the day and the night. Day is God opening the Gates of Wisdom to a person, and the night is whatever knowledge she just acquired does not appear to her as complete or final. For all that one can grasp is like the night compared to the day that is to follow, and this back-and-forth never ends. Ultimately, everything is like the night compared to the light that God will OPEN in the future.

This is why the injunction to not make a carved and fixed image of God is linked to God’s incomplete exposure of self. As it says in the Zohar (Exodus 87b), “Because it is later written ‘Carve two tablets of stone’, therefore it is written here to not carve an image of stone or make any likeness of what is in the heavens or on earth, in order that you do not create a different Torah.” A carved image is cut according to specific dimensions. It is complete, lacking nothing. The only thing this is true of is the Torah of Moses.

However, it is beyond the scope of human consciousness to create something like this that is perfect and wholly without lack. As it is taught (Ruth Rabba 3.2) The Roman Caesar said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chaninah, “I too am able to make a Torah like Moses.” He decreed that no fire be made for three days. During this time, the two of them saw smoke rising from one house. The Caesar explained that one of his generals was sick and he had exempt him from the decree, thus admitting that he could not create something entirely perfect like the Torah that did not require amending and conditionals.

Even though we have a similar explicit ruling from the Torah that the saving of a life overrides the laws of the Sabbath, this ruling does not stand in contrast to anything in the Torah, for the Torah commands that the saving of a life is paramount to the Sabbath [and thus is not an amendment to a previous ruling, but an independent concept altogether].

In every instance we are called upon to act for God in contrast to the Law עֵ֭ת לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת לַי-ה-וָ֑-ה הֵ֝פֵ֗רוּ תּוֹרָתֶֽךָ, we find hints of how to overturn the Torah. The Torah includes all possibilities and peregrinations that will come to pass, and its light surrounds and supports all ways and all life that is to be lived. It is beyond the scope of humankind to contain so much. This is why the Zohar explains that the carved or graven image is the positive commandments, and any likeness is the negative commandments.

Nothing is ever revealed to a person in its totality.

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