Issue 33 | Parshat Va’eira | Are You in the Know?



To Live a Knowing Life

Do you ever feel that despite all we know, there is something we are missing? A nagging sense that even as things seem to be functioning, there is something beyond us that remains elusive?

Some of us feel that we “know what is going on.” But do we really know?

We all exist. Every creature on earth exists. That much we know. But do we know anything more about life than the fact that we exist?

Animals only exist; they do not concern themselves with anything beyond surviving, breeding, feeding, protecting their young and ensuring the perpetuation of their species. They live out their lives faithfully fulfilling their duties to the tee – without giving it a second thought. They never waver from their clockwork routines, do not suffer from anxiety, are in no need for therapy. Animal bliss. Sounds delightful.

We humans, by contrast, think, agonize, procrastinate and are involved in a whole slew of activities that often overwhelm us, and at times even drive us mad. We are not satisfied with just living and existing. We want to know. We want to understand. We are not content with routines. We question, challenge, rebel – sometimes ad nauseam to the point of self destruction. We cannot just rest and be.

Where does this curiosity and thirst for knowledge come from? If ignorance is bliss and the more knowledge the more pain, is it worth pursuing knowledge? How can we use our knowledge to grow and not drive ourselves crazy?

The Torah chapter of this week opens up with G-d telling Moses: “I am G-d (Y-H-V-H). I revealed Myself to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, by the name of E-l Sha-dai, but by My name, Y-H-V-H, I did not make Myself known to them.”

What is the significance of this revelation? What relevance does it have to us today?

In this week’s insight, the Baal Shem Tov teaches us about the remarkable gift given to us by G-d in this Torah portion – the gift of knowledge, true knowledge: the gift of knowing G-d! The blessing that we not only exist, but that we can perceive the Divine in every fiber of our existence and every detail of our lives.

That we have the power to live not just a meaningful life, but a knowing life.


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