Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Parashat Mikeitz Yosef HaTzaddik

Rabbi Ari Kahn
Parashat Mikeitz
Yosef HaTzaddik

The story of Yosef is well known: As the favorite son, Yosef becomes the object of the jealousy and derision of his brothers. He is sold into slavery, and, after many trials and tribulations, rises to the second most powerful position in Egypt. Many years later he confronts his brothers, and the visions for which his brothers mocked him in his youth come to fruition.

Biblical stories are often quite compelling, and this saga is truly great literature. For Jews, however, these stories are much more than a “good read.” Many levels or layers of meaning and insight are encapsulated in the verses of these “stories,” and the account of Yosef’s life is no exception. Each verse, each word used to tell Yosef’s story, is loaded with theological and mystical implications.

בראשית לז: ב
אֵ֣לֶּה׀ תֹּלְד֣וֹת יַעֲקֹ֗ב יוֹסֵ֞ף בֶּן־שְׁבַֽע־עֶשְׂרֵ֤ה שָׁנָה֙
These are the generations of Yaakov: Yosef was seventeen years old... (Bereishit 37:2)

The story of Yaakov is inextricably linked with Yosef; of all his sons, Yosef holds the key to Yaakov’s legacy. The fulfillment or completeness of Yaakov, the “generations of Yaakov,” will be realized through Yosef.

בראשית לז: ג
וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל אָהַ֤ב אֶת־יוֹסֵף֙ מִכָּל־בָּנָ֔יו
And Yisrael loved Yosef more than all his sons… (Bereishit 37:3)

Yisrael – and not Yaakov – loved Yosef more than the other sons. The use of this name reflects national identity and national destiny, and not the sentimental, personal relationship between Yaakov and his children. Yaakov’s mission was a spiritual one; if he favored Yosef, it was because he believed that Yosef was best suited to fulfill that mission.

בראשית לז: ה
וַיַּחֲלֹ֤ם יוֹסֵף֙ חֲל֔וֹם
And Yosef dreamed a dream… (Bereishit 37:5)

Yosef was a visionary; perhaps this was one of the reasons why Yaakov loved him. Yosef had a unique ability to dream and to understand the meaning of dreams. Yisrael – the name used to describe the third of our founding fathers, as opposed to the name Yaakov that refers to his personal life and times – identified Yosef as the son most capable of carrying the nation’s spiritual mission forward. Like his father and grandfather, Yaakov looked to the future: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov were not merely three highly accomplished spiritual individuals. They formed a dynasty, a shoshelet; Yisrael identified Yosef as the link in the   shalshelet (from the root shalosh, three) that would hold the entire chain together.

The dynasty began when God forged a covenant with Avraham:

בראשית יז:א-יב
וַיְהִ֣י אַבְרָ֔ם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְתֵ֣שַׁע שָׁנִ֑ים וַיֵּרָ֨א ה֜' אֶל־אַבְרָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ אֲנִי־אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י הִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ לְפָנַ֖י וֶהְיֵ֥ה תָמִֽים: וְאֶתְּנָ֥ה בְרִיתִ֖י בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֑ךָ וְאַרְבֶּ֥ה אוֹתְךָ֖ בִּמְאֹ֥ד מְאֹֽד: וַיִּפֹּ֥ל אַבְרָ֖ם עַל־פָּנָ֑יו וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אִתּ֛וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים לֵאמֹֽר: אֲנִ֕י הִנֵּ֥ה בְרִיתִ֖י אִתָּ֑ךְ וְהָיִ֕יתָ לְאַ֖ב הֲמ֥וֹן גּוֹיִֽם: וְלֹא־יִקָּרֵ֥א עוֹ֛ד אֶת־שִׁמְךָ֖ אַבְרָ֑ם וְהָיָ֤ה שִׁמְךָ֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם כִּ֛י אַב־הֲמ֥וֹן גּוֹיִ֖ם נְתַתִּֽיךָ: וְהִפְרֵתִ֤י אֹֽתְךָ֙ בִּמְאֹ֣ד מְאֹ֔ד וּנְתַתִּ֖יךָ לְגוֹיִ֑ם וּמְלָכִ֖ים מִמְּךָ֥ יֵצֵֽאוּ: וַהֲקִמֹתִ֨י אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֜י בֵּינִ֣י וּבֵינֶ֗ךָ וּבֵ֨ין זַרְעֲךָ֧ אַחֲרֶ֛יךָ לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם לִבְרִ֣ית עוֹלָ֑ם לִהְי֤וֹת לְךָ֙ לֵֽאלֹהִ֔ים וּֽלְזַרְעֲךָ֖ אַחֲרֶֽיךָ: וְנָתַתִּ֣י לְ֠ךָ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ֨ אַחֲרֶ֜יךָ אֵ֣ת׀ אֶ֣רֶץ מְגֻרֶ֗יךָ אֵ֚ת כָּל־אֶ֣רֶץ כְּנַ֔עַן לַאֲחֻזַּ֖ת עוֹלָ֑ם וְהָיִ֥יתִי לָהֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִֽים: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם וְאַתָּ֖ה אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֣י תִשְׁמֹ֑ר אַתָּ֛ה וְזַרְעֲךָ֥ אַֽחֲרֶ֖יךָ לְדֹרֹתָֽם: זֹ֣את בְּרִיתִ֞י אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּשְׁמְר֗וּ בֵּינִי֙ וּבֵ֣ינֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵ֥ין זַרְעֲךָ֖ אַחֲרֶ֑יךָ הִמּ֥וֹל לָכֶ֖ם כָּל־זָכָֽר:  וּנְמַלְתֶּ֕ם אֵ֖ת בְּשַׂ֣ר עָרְלַתְכֶ֑ם וְהָיָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵינֵיכֶֽם:  וּבֶן־שְׁמֹנַ֣ת יָמִ֗ים יִמּ֥וֹל לָכֶ֛ם כָּל־זָכָ֖ר לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֑ם
Avraham was ninety-nine years old. God appeared to Avraham, and said to him, “I am El Shaddai;[1] walk with Me and be complete. I will make a covenant between Me and you and multiply you exceedingly.” Avraham prostrated himself, and God said to him: “This is my covenant with you; you will father many nations. You will no longer be called Avram; your name shall be Avraham because I have made you the father of a many nations. I will cause you to multiply exceedingly and make nations from you; kings will descend from you. And I will uphold the covenant between us, and with your offspring and their descendants through the generations, in an everlasting covenant, to be their God and the God of their children after them. And I will give to you and your descendants the land in which you dwell, the entire Land of Canaan, as an eternal inheritance, and I will be their God.” God said to Avraham: “And you shall safeguard the covenant with Me; you, and your descendants throughout the generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep between Me and you, and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. Every eight-day-old male among you, throughout the generations, shall be circumcised....” (Bereishit 17:1–12)

This epiphany takes place prior to the birth of Yitzchak. Avram becomes Avraham, the new name signifying his new identity and spiritual mission as a father of nations and progenitor of a covenantal community. Avraham is commanded to circumcise all his descendants. As a result of these changes, Yitzchak will come into the world and the chain will continue: The covenant creates a new relationship between Avraham and God that will be carried on by Avraham’s children. With the commandment of circumcision, the dynasty begins.

This passage, almost-literally pregnant with religious, national and historic importance, contains another significant element: This is the first time Kel Shakkai appears in the Torah. Just how significant this fact is, becomes apparent when we note its subsequent appearances in the text: When Yitzchak orders Yaakov not to take a wife from among the local women, he sends him away with a blessing:  

בראשית כח:ג-ד
וַיִּקְרָ֥א יִצְחָ֛ק אֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב וַיְבָ֣רֶךְ אֹת֑וֹ וַיְצַוֵּ֙הוּ֙ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ לֹֽא־תִקַּ֥ח אִשָּׁ֖ה מִבְּנ֥וֹת כְּנָֽעַן: ק֖וּם לֵךְ֙ פַּדֶּ֣נָֽה אֲרָ֔ם בֵּ֥יתָה בְתוּאֵ֖ל אֲבִ֣י אִמֶּ֑ךָ וְקַח־לְךָ֤ מִשָּׁם֙ אִשָּׁ֔ה מִבְּנ֥וֹת לָבָ֖ן אֲחִ֥י אִמֶּֽךָ: וְאֵ֤ל שַׁדַּי֙ יְבָרֵ֣ךְ אֹֽתְךָ֔ וְיַפְרְךָ֖ וְיַרְבֶּ֑ךָ וְהָיִ֖יתָ לִקְהַ֥ל עַמִּֽים: וְיִֽתֶּן־לְךָ֙ אֶת־בִּרְכַּ֣ת אַבְרָהָ֔ם לְךָ֖ וּלְזַרְעֲךָ֣ אִתָּ֑ךְ לְרִשְׁתְּךָ֙ אֶת־אֶ֣רֶץ מְגֻרֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁר־נָתַ֥ן אֱלֹהִ֖ים לְאַבְרָהָֽם:
Yitzchak called Yaakov and blessed him, and commanded him, saying: “Do not take a wife from among the Canaanites. Go, travel to Padan Aram, to the house of Betuel, your maternal grandfather, and take a wife there, from the daughters of Lavan, your uncle. Kel Shakkai shall bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and you will become a large nation. He will give the blessing of Avraham to you and to your descendants with you, to inherit the land in which you live, which the Almighty promised to Avraham. (Bereishit 28:1–4)

When the blessing of nationhood, given to Avraham by Kel Shakkai, is passed on to Yaakov, the Name of God invoked is, once again, Kel Shakkai.

בראשית לה:י-יא
וַיֹּֽאמֶר־ל֥וֹ אֱלֹהִ֖ים שִׁמְךָ֣ יַעֲקֹ֑ב לֹֽא־יִקָּרֵא֩ שִׁמְךָ֨ ע֜וֹד יַעֲקֹ֗ב כִּ֤י אִם־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ יִהְיֶ֣ה שְׁמֶ֔ךָ וַיִּקְרָ֥א אֶת־ שְׁמ֖וֹ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:  וַיֹּאמֶר֩ ל֨וֹ אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֲנִ֨י אֵ֤ל שַׁדַּי֙ פְּרֵ֣ה וּרְבֵ֔ה גּ֛וֹי וּקְהַ֥ל גּוֹיִ֖ם יִהְיֶ֣ה מִמֶּ֑ךָּ וּמְלָכִ֖ים מֵחֲלָצֶ֥יךָ יֵצֵֽאוּ: 
The Almighty said to him, “Your name is Yaakov. No shall no longer be called Yaakov, but rather Yisrael shall be your name,” and He named him Yisrael. The Almighty said to him, “I am Kel Shakkai. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a congregation of nations shall descend from you, and kings will emerge from your loins.” (Bereishit 35:10–11)

Each time God bestows the blessing of progeny upon the Patriarchs, He refers to Himself with the Divine Name Kel Shakkai. In fact, these are the only instances in which this Divine Name is used until this point in the Torah; it is not used in any other context. Instead, the more familiar Tetragrammaton (translated as Eternal) or Elokim (which we translate as Almighty) are used.[2]

The next appearance of Kel Shakkai is in this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Miketz. Yaakov is finally persuaded – with great difficulty -  to allow the brothers to take Binyamin to Egypt. His parting words to his sons are as much a prayer as a blessing:  

בראשית מג:יד-טו
וְאֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֗י יִתֵּ֨ן לָכֶ֤ם רַחֲמִים֙ לִפְנֵ֣י הָאִ֔ישׁ וְשִׁלַּ֥ח לָכֶ֛ם אֶת־אֲחִיכֶ֥ם אַחֵ֖ר וְאֶת־בִּנְיָמִ֑ין וַאֲנִ֕י כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר שָׁכֹ֖לְתִּי שָׁכָֽלְתִּי: 
May Kel Shakkai give you mercy before the man [the leader of Egypt]. May He send your other brother [Shimon], as well as Binyamin, back; as for me, just as I mourned [for Yosef] I will mourn [for Binyamin]. (Bereishit 43:14)

Yaakov is tormented by the prospect of losing Binyamin. He has mourned Binyamin’s brother Yosef for decades, and is consumed with dread that he will lose the only son that remains from his beloved Rachel. However, if we view this dialogue as Yaakov speaking not only as a father but as the leader of a nation, the statement takes on a different meaning. He fears for the future of his nation – the nation promised to him and his father and grandfather by Kel Shakkai.

In the last days of Yaakov’s life, he invokes Kel Shakkai twice, both times in discussions with Yosef: First, Yaakov recounts the crucial moments of his life story. Once again, the topic is children or descendants, as Yaakov prepares to bless Yosef’s sons— the only grandchildren to receive his blessing directly.

בראשית פרק מח, ג-ד
(ג) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יַעֲקֹב֙ אֶל־יוֹסֵ֔ף אֵ֥ל שַׁדַּ֛י נִרְאָֽה־אֵלַ֥י בְּל֖וּז בְּאֶ֣רֶץ כְּנָ֑עַן וַיְבָ֖רֶךְ אֹתִֽי: (ד) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלַ֗י הִנְנִ֤י מַפְרְךָ֙ וְהִרְבִּיתִ֔ךָ וּנְתַתִּ֖יךָ לִקְהַ֣ל עַמִּ֑ים :
Yaakov said to Yosef, “Kel Shakkai appeared to me in Luz and blessed me. He said to me, ‘ I will make you fruitful and numerous and a host of nations will spring forth from you…” (Bereishit 48:3,4)

The last time Shakkai is used in Sefer Bereishit is in Yaakov’s deathbed blessing to Yosef.

בראשית מט: כה-כו
מֵאֵ֨ל אָבִ֜יךָ וְיַעְזְרֶ֗ךָּ וְאֵ֤ת שַׁדַּי֙ וִיבָ֣רְכֶ֔ךָּ בִּרְכֹ֤ת שָׁמַ֙יִם֙ מֵעָ֔ל בִּרְכֹ֥ת תְּה֖וֹם רֹבֶ֣צֶת תָּ֑חַת בִּרְכֹ֥ת שָׁדַ֖יִם וָרָֽחַם: בִּרְכֹ֣ת אָבִ֗יךָ גָּֽבְרוּ֙ עַל־בִּרְכֹ֣ת הוֹרַ֔י עַֽד־תַּאֲוַ֖ת גִּבְעֹ֣ת עוֹלָ֑ם תִּֽהְיֶ֙יןָ֙ לְרֹ֣אשׁ יוֹסֵ֔ף וּלְקָדְקֹ֖ד נְזִ֥יר אֶחָֽיו:
May the God [Kel] of your father help you, and Kel Shakkai shall bless you, blessings of the Heavens above, blessings of the depths which crouch below, blessings of the breast and womb. The blessings of your father are potent beyond those of my ancestors, to the utmost boundary of the everlasting hills. They shall be on the head of Yosef, and on the crown of the head of he who was separated from his brothers. (Bereishit 49:25–26)

Yaakov passes on to Yosef the powerful blessings he himself received from God directly, as well as from his own father and grandfather. Once again, the Name associated with this blessing of progeny is Kel Shakkai.

These passages are the only ones in Sefer Bereishit in which this particular Name of God appears, leading us to two conclusions: First, that Shakkai is intrinsically connected with the blessing of progeny, and second, that this blessing is bestowed exclusively upon Yosef.

What is the meaning of Kel Shakkai?

תלמוד בבלי מסכת חגיגה דף יב עמוד א
וְהַיְינוּ דְּאָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ, מַאי דִּכְתִיב, (בראשית יז) "אֲנִי אֵ - ל שָׁדָּי", אֲנִי אֵ - ל שֶׁאָמַרְתִּי לְעוֹלָמִי "דַּי"! אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת הַיָם, הָיָה מַרְחִיב וְהוֹלֵךְ, עַד שֶׁגָעַר בּוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, וְיִבְּשׁוֹ
And this is the teaching of Resh Lakish; ‘What is the meaning of “I am Kel Shakkai”? I am He who told the world, “Enough!” Reish Lakish taught: When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the sea, it kept on expanding until the Holy One, blessed be He, chastised it, and it stopped… (Talmud Bavli Chagigah 12a)

Resh Lakish explained that the Hebrew word dai, “enough,” “stop,” “cease and desist,” forms the core of the Divine Name Shaddai: The forces of Creation, when unleashed, threatened to overwhelm what had been created. Nature had to be restrained from running amok, so God set boundaries, creating a tension between the various forces of nature that enabled our world to exist.

The Name of God used in the description of Creation is Elokim, the Almighty or Omnipotent. According to Kabbalistic tradition, Elokim does not describe the essence of God; it expresses one aspect of God, one facet that is revealed to us. Kabbalistic texts more commonly refer to God as Ein Sof - “without limits,” or “The Infinite.” At first glance, we might think that Elokim, “The Almighty” best describes God’s role in the cosmic drama. Why, then, do the Kabbalists prefer Ein Sof?

The Kabbalists grapple with a fundamental problem: The essence of God is transcendental, completely beyond man’s grasp or ability to categorize, and therefore beyond articulation. Consequently, even the term ‘Almighty’ is, in effect, an anthropomorphism; it describes God as the possessor of all the powers we can conceive of, all the powers known to us or imagined by our limited minds – which is, in God’s terms, a very limited purview indeed. The Zohar attempts to point out our inability to grasp or express that which lies beyond us, suggesting that the first verse of the Torah should be translated as “In the beginning, Elokim was created [by the transcendental Ein Sof]…” (Tikunei Zohar, Tikunim Chadashim, Ha’idra Kadisha).[3]

The name Elokim is identified with the unbridled forces of nature;[4] it is this aspect of God that creates heaven and earth in six days. However, in the Kabbalistic description of Creation, the world’s emergence is made possible by the transcendental God “holding back” His transcendence and allowing a finite world to exist. This process is known as tzimtzum (‘contraction’ or ‘self-limitation’); the result is the creation of “nature.” The aspect of God expressed in the Divine Name Shakkai denotes this limitation of nature.

Avraham came to recognize God through nature;[5] God’s response was to give Avraham the mitzvah of circumcision, which implies that man must perfect nature, rise above it, control his natural instincts - in imitation of God’s own self-limitation. For the Jewish People to emerge, Avraham must connect with the Infinite by developing the ability to rise above “nature.” This is the symbol of the eighth day: There are seven days of the week in the process of creation; the eighth day lies beyond the natural, beyond the physical. The Jewish People could not emerge as a nation until they accepted the mitzvah of circumcision; the self-limitation that is the essence of the Covenant of Avraham is the prerequisite for the birth of a holy nation, a “kingdom of priests.”

More than any other biblical figure, Yosef epitomizes the ability to control base human instinct: He resists sexual temptation, he overcomes the human tendency toward vengefulness, spite and hatred – even when these might have been perfectly well-deserved. Yosef, and no other, is known as “Yosef the Tzaddik,” and Kabbalistic sources refer to him as Yesod – the foundation.  He completes the process of self-limitation that brings about the transition from family to nationhood: Yosef internalizes the concept of tzimtzum expressed in the Divine attribute of Shakkai.

As the long and oppressive exile in Egypt comes to an end, the Israelites set about collecting their unpaid wages from their Egyptian taskmasters, in fulfillment of the promise God made to Avraham centuries earlier:

בראשית פרק טו, יג-יד
וַעֲבָד֖וּם וְעִנּ֣וּ אֹתָ֑ם וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵ֥ן יֵצְא֖וּ בִּרְכֻ֥שׁ גָּדֽוֹל:
“…Enslave them and abuse them…and then [Your children] will leave with great possessions” (Bereishit 15:14).

Moshe, their leader, heads instead to the Nile River to collect Yosef’s remains. Why did Moshe occupy himself personally with the task of fulfilling the promise made by the brothers to Yosef to redeem his remains from Egypt? Could this responsibility not have been delegated, perhaps to one of Yosef’s direct descendants?

While still an infant, Moshe was hidden in an ark and set afloat in the Nile. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and took him in, saving him from the death sentence her own father had issued for all Jewish males. Moshe’s sister Miriam offered to find a nurse for the baby, and Pharaoh’s daughter agreed. Thus, Moshe was returned to his parents’ home for two years, until he was weaned; he then went back to Pharaoh’s place, where he was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Shemot, Chapter 2). Moshe’s parents had a brief opportunity to educate their son prior to his return to the daughter of Pharaoh and to life in the palace. What sort of things did they teach him? He certainly was aware his Jewish identity:

שמות ב:יא
וַיְהִ֣י׀ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֗ם וַיִּגְדַּ֤ל מֹשֶׁה֙ וַיֵּצֵ֣א אֶל־אֶחָ֔יו וַיַּ֖רְא בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיַּרְא֙ אִ֣ישׁ מִצְרִ֔י מַכֶּ֥ה אִישׁ־עִבְרִ֖י מֵאֶחָֽיו:
It was in those days, when Moshe was grown, that he went out to his brothers and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, from his brothers. (Shemot 2:11)

Despite his life of privilege and comfort in the palace, Moshe knew and acknowledged his brothers, the Israelite slaves. His parents had obviously taught him well, had equipped him with the tools to retain his Jewish identity in the palace. Surely, there could have been no better role model than their great-great uncle Yosef. Who but Yosef had spent long years in the palace, living among the uppermost echelon of Egyptian society, and, despite all its depravity and seductiveness, retained his identity? The example of Yosef the Tzaddik almost certainly inspired Moshe, fortified him in the years of separation from his family, and gave him hope for a reconciliation - as well as a deep understanding that God’s plan for the salvation of the Jewish People sometimes requires that individuals be placed in this situation for the good of the nation. Yosef, once again, is the Yesod - the foundation upon which the Exodus from Egypt was built.

And so, in a gesture of gratitude for the uplifting example and inspiration Yosef provided, Moshe himself lifted Yosef’s remains from the Nile and out of Egypt.  Had Yosef been merely one more great-uncle, Moshe could have delegated the chore of locating his remains to someone else. Rather, it was Yosef the Tzaddik, the foundation of Moshe’s faith in Jewish unity and Jewish destiny, the symbol of man’s ability to control his own nature, the human manifestation of Shakkai, whom Moshe liberated.[6] Kabbalisitic thought stresses the spiritual connection between Moshe and Yosef:

זוהר חלק ג דף רלו/א )רעיא מהימנא ספר במדבר פרשת פנחס(
וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת עַצְמוֹת יוֹסֵף עִמּוֹ. עַצְמוֹת צַדִיק יְסוֹד עָלְמִין, דַּרְגָּא דְּיוֹסֵף הַצַּדִיק.
“Moshe took the remains of Yosef with him” [Shemot 11:19] — the remains of the Tzaddik who is the foundation of the world, the level of Yosef the Tzaddik. (Zohar, Bemidbar 236a)

It should come as no surprise, then, that when God speaks to Moshe for the first time, He addresses this spiritual connection, and uses it to explain the task He is about to bestow upon Moshe:

שמות ו:ב-ג
וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֵלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י הֽ': וָאֵרָ֗א אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֶל־יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽל־יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י וּשְׁמִ֣י ה֔' לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם:
The Almighty spoke to Moshe, and said to him, “I am The Eternal God. I appeared to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov as Kel Shakkai, and My Eternal Name [the Tetragrammaton] I did not make known to them.” (Shemot 6:2–3)

To fulfill his mission, Moshe will need a different type of relationship with God than the one enjoyed by the patriarchs. These relationships are expressed in the different names through which God reveals Himself: The aspect of God expressed by Shakkai is a powerful one, and surely no holy nation of Jews could have come into existence without it. God, however, has many more plans for the Jews — plans that Moshe is now tasked with setting in motion: Standing at Mount Sinai, receiving the Torah, taking possession of the Land of Israel, and, eventually, mending and perfecting the world. For these missions to be accomplished, more Divine Light must be revealed, other aspects of God must become known and manifest in this world. The blessings bestowed upon the Patriarchs by Kel Shakkai were brought to full expression in Yosef, the Yesod or foundation of the Jewish People - but the building which will stand on this foundation had yet to be built. That would require a new relationship with God, a new covenant that would be forged at Mount Sinai, built upon the foundation laid by our Forefathers.

[1]As with all names of God, the word itself is considered too holy to be used commonly. Thus, with the exclusion of the recitation of blessings or in mandated Torah reading in the synagogue, none of the names of God are pronounced by the devout as they appear in the text: Elohim is pronounced Elokim, El is pronounced Kel, Shaddai is pronounced Shakkai, and the Tetragrammaton is replaced with Hashem (meaning, quite simply, “The Name”).
[2] There are those who note the name Shaddai is suspiciously similar to the Hebrew (plural) word for “breasts”, which would explain why this name always seems related to blessings of fertility. See Zohar Shemot 153a, and Ben Yehidaya Shabbat 97a.
זוהר כרך ב (שמות) פרשת פקודי [המתחיל בדף רכ עמוד א]
ומיומא דאתחרב בי מקדשא לא עאלו הכא נשמתין אחרנין וכד יסתיימון אלין היכלא קיימא בריקניא ויתפקד מלעילא וכדין ייתי מלכא משיחא ואתער היכלא דא לעילא ויתער היכלא לתתא וברזא דהיכלא דא כתיב (שיר ד) שני שדיך כשני עפרים וגו' בגין דבהיכלא דא ההוא רוחא דקאמרן וההוא חיותא אפיק תרין נהורין כלילן דא בדא מתקשרן דא בדא ואקרון א"ל שד"י אלין אקרון שד"י וא"ל דלתתא מתחברן דא בדא ואעיל דא בדא ואקרי א"ל שד"י, בגין דנפק מכללא דאלין שדים, והאי א"ל דאיהו מסטרא דימינא נטל מאתר דא כל אינון רחמין דקיימי לאתזנא ההוא היכלא דלתתא דאקרי זכות"א על שמא דהאי רוחא דביה דקאמרן, האי שדי יניק לכל אינון תתאין ולכל אינון היכלין ולכל אינון דלבר דקיימי מסטרא דא דאקרון יתדות המשכן כמה דאוקימנא ועל דא אקרי שדי בגין דמספקא מזונא לכלהו תתאי כמה דאיהו מקבלא מסטרא דימינא,
ספר בניהו בן יהוידע על שבת דף צז/א
שם. מחיקו הוא דשבה כבשרו. נראה לי בס"ד תחלה א"ל הבא נא ידך בחיקך, והיינו חקך אות ש' שהיא עומדת בחק שמך, ותתן עליה אותיות יד אז יהיה צירוף יד"ש המורה על הלקאה לשון דישה, והוא אחר שעשה צירופים על שם שדי, אך אחר כך בטובה א"ל השב נא ידך בחקך, תיבת השב מורה על חזרה לאחור, כלומר צירוף יד עם חקך שהוא ש' שנעשה יד"ש השב אותו לאחור שנעשה שם שדי ביושר, כי ידש למפרע שד"י, ושם זה יורה על הטובה והוא לשון שדים של יניקה, וגם עוד ראיתי בספר קה"י שהביא מן ספר דן ידין שכינה החכמה באותיות שדי, ובגילוי אור החכמה מסתלק הצרעת כנודע מדברי רבינו האר"י ז"ל בשה"מ.
[3] See Tikunei Zohar 4b, 98a,111b.
תיקוני זהר דף ד/ב
ושם יקו"ק איהו עמודא דאמצעיתא, אמת, ושכינתא תורת אמת, בה אתבריאת כורסיא דאיהי אלקי"ם, והיינו בראשית ברא אלקי"ם, באורייתא דאיהי ראשית ברא כורסיא דאיהי אלקי"ם, דהכי סליק הכס"א לחושבן אלקי"ם:
תיקוני זהר דף צח/א
 בראשית ברא אלקי"ם דא מטטרו"ן, דברא ליה קודשא בריך הוא קדמון וראשית לכל צבא השמים דלתתא, ודא איהו אדם הקטן, דקודשא בריך הוא עבד ליה בדיוקנא (וציורא) דלעילא בלא ערבוביא, ועליה אתמר תוצא הארץ נפש חיה למינה, ואיהו עץ פרי עושה פרי למינו, כגוונא דלעילא ווי מאן דעביד ערבוביא לעילא ולתתא, דהאי איהו אילנא דערבוביא, ערבוביא מאילנא דמותא, בגין דא אתקרי מטה, דאתהפך לנחש לאלקאה ביה לחייביא, ומאן איהו דאפיך ליה קודשא בריך הוא דשליט עליה והא אוקמוה:
תיקוני זהר דף קיא/ב
אמרו ליה רבי רבי, הא אילנא שלים ביקו"ק, אמאי נחית א' מן בראשית, אלא בגין דאיהו נביעו לאשקאה אילנא, דמתמן אלקי"ם מליא"ה מכל תשע ספיראן, דאינון בבראשית, שית אינון שית ספיראן, ברא תלת ספיראן עלאין, אלקי"ם איהו עשיראה מליאה מכלהו תשע, שלימו דכלהו, ובגין דא בראשית ברא אלקי"ם, בראשית ברא עם אלקי"ם, את השמים ואת הארץ, אתו לנשקא ליה פרח לעילא:
[4] This Divine Name has the same numeric value as hateva (nature). This teaching is hinted at in the writings of Rabbenu Bachya (Bereishit 2:4); it appears in the writings of Rabbi Moshe of Cordovero’s Pardes Rimonim (Shaar 12, chapter 2), and is cited by the Shla Hakadosh from the Pardes Rimonim, and by numerous later writers.
רבנו בחיי על בראשית פרק ב פסוק ד
לא הזכיר השם המיוחד עד עתה בכל ששת ימי בראשית. ועל דרך הפשט שם אלהים נופל על מעשה הטבע ומעיד על החידוש ושם המיוחד מעיד על קדמותו ומציאותו יתברך, ועל כן לא הזכיר השם המיוחד בכל מעשה הטבע רק שם אלהים כי התורה רצתה להתחיל בסיפור החידוש, ועל כן הוצרך להזכיר השם המורה על המחדש והוא הכינוי שנתחדש לו בבריאת עולמו, ואילו היתה כוונת התורה להתחיל בסיפור קדמותו ומציאותו יתברך היה ראוי להזכיר השם המיוחד המעיד על זה, ועל כן הזכיר הנגלה והסתיר הנסתר:
ספר השל"ה הקדוש - מסכת פסחים מצה עשירה{תע}  
וּכְבָר כָּתְבוּ הַרְבֵּה מְפָרְשִׁים עִנְיָן זֶה, שֶׁשֵּׁם אֱלֹהִים מוֹרֶה עַל הַטֶּבַע (וְכֵן 'אֱלֹהִים', כְּמִנְיַן 'הַטֶּבַע' (הפרדס שער י"ב פ"ב). וְשֵׁם ידו"ד מוֹרֶה עַל שֶׁהוּא הָיָה הֹוֶה יִהְיֶה, מְהַוֶּה הַכֹּל בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וּבְחֶפְצוֹ לְשַׁנּוֹת וּלְשַׁדֵּד:
שפתי כהן על בראשית פרק א פסוק כז
שכן אלהים בגימטריא הטבע
ספר פרדס רמונים - שער יב פרק ב
אבל נכתב בשם אלקים באותיות אלקים לרמוז אל תוקף דין הגבורה כי היא עולם הטבע. וכן עולה שם אלקים במנין הטב"ע שהוא בו. והטעם כי השמיטה היתה בגבורה כפי המוסכם בין רוב המפרשים. והשמיטה הטביעה בעולמה כפי טבעה ורצונה כי הטבע רצון אלקי הוא. ולכן בריאת העולם היה בדין גמור עד שראה שלא יכול לעמוד ושתף עמה מדת הרחמים כדפי' רז"ל:
ספר מגלה עמוקות על התורה - פרשת חקת
ע"ד השכל חטאו בשני הנהגות שהקב"ה מנהיג עולמו באלקים הנהגת הטבע ובמשה הנהגת השגחה לכן אמר וידבר באלקים אלקים בגימט' הטבע
ספר קהלת יעקב - ערך במ
במוכן הוא חילוף שם אלהים באותיות שלאחריו והוא יותר דין מבחינת אלהים הרב ז"ל (פרי עץ חיים שער חג המצות פרק א'), והרב החסיד מוהר"ר ישראל דק"ק קאזניץ אמר טעם על מה שנקרא במוכן כי בחינת אלהים הוא בטבע כי אלהים בגימטריא הטבע, והטבע אינו שופע אלא במוכן לה שנולד במזל זה, וגם אותיות במוכן שאחר אלהים ודברי פי חכם חן:
ספר מבוא לחכמת הקבלה - חלק א שער ז פרק ה
אלקים הוא המכסה אור הוי"ה ב"ה הנקרא שם העצם. לכן אלקים בגימ' הטבע הנהגת הטבע. וע"ז נאמר כבוד אלקים הסתר דבר, כבוד לשון לבוש, כטעם רבי יוחנן דקרי למאניה מכבדותי:
[5] See my comments on Parashat Lech Lecha for a summary of the midrashim on this topic.

[6] On a more basic level, we may posit that Moshe, as a descendant of Levi, felt an historic responsibility to “right the wrong” and to return Yosef home. According to tradition, it was Levi who first suggested to kill Yosef; perhaps Moshe felt particular responsibility for the schism created by the sale of Yosef, and this was his way of making amends and healing the nation’s wounds of discord.