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I Am What I Am

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: God, Name, "I Am What I Am"

Joseph Slotkowski wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Why does G-d call Himself, "I am who I am?" I know that's a horribly complex question, but I am a horribly complex person.


Dear Joseph Slotkowski,

Rashi explains this name to mean "I am and I will be - I am their rescue now and will be in the future." Others explain this name to mean that G-d's true existence can't be comprehended by human logic. G-d is above time, as He created time. Therefore, He always was, He is now, and He always will be in the future, and all this He is in the present. The word "ehyeh" (I will be), spelled alef, heh, yud and heh, hints at this idea, as all the numbers mount towards 10: The numerical value of alef is one, symbolizing the past, heh is five, symbolizing the middle or present, yud is 10, symbolizing the end or the future, and the last heh five comes to say that all this is in the present.

Sources:

  • Exodus 3:14
  • Rashi Ibid.


 
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