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Adding Some Jewish Into Your Week: I Am Who I Am

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Looking for some new thoughts on the Torah to share this week? Here are some reflections to add a modern perspective to this week's Torah reading.

This week's Parsha, "Va'eira", completes the first conversation between god and Moses. In this conversation at the burning bush, Moses says to god “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The god of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” god responds with the famous words, "Eh'yeh asher eh'yeh."

This Hebrew phrase has been translated into English in a number of ways, with robust commentary accompanying each interpretation. Two popular translations include "I am that I am" and "I will be what I will be."  Some view this as god telling Moses god's true name, others just as an explanation of what god is.  My own interpretation is that god is simply sharing a fact with Moses; god is who god is and he doesn't need to provide more of an explanation than that.

If you look at the Torah as a complex story, and consider god as one of the characters (rather than an almighty, omniscient being) this quote has even more important implications. Over the course of the story so far, god has grown as a character, and it is here that god says "I am who I am." As a character, he can be interpreted as sending the message, "This is who I am. I don't have to explain myself any more than that. If you don't like it, sorry."

The lesson we can all take from the Torah this week is to be unapologetic about who we are. We should wake up every morning and say "I am who I am or I will be who I will be."  We should care less about what others think and be less concerned with judgement and hate. If everyone could say "this is who I have grown into, and this is who I will continue to become," the same way that god does in this complex story of the Torah, the world could be a much better and easier place to live.