The Revelation at the Yam Suf
The Mechilta says (shemos 15:2):
ראתה שפחה על הים מה שלא ראה יחזקאל בן בוזי
“A shifchah saw at the see more than Yechezkel ben Buzi.”
The gemara says in Chagigah (13b):
אמר רבא כל שראה יחזקאל ראה ישעיה למה יחזקאל דומה לבן כפר שראה את המלך ולמה ישעיה דומה לבן כרך שראה את המלך
“Rava said, everything that Yechezkel saw, Yeshaya saw. What is Yechezkel similar to? To a villager who saw the king. What is Yeshaya similar to? To a city dweller who saw the king.”
We see from the gemara that Yeshaya’s nevuah was greater than Yechezkel’s because he is compared to a city dweller, who is closer to the king than a villager. If so, why does the mechilta say that a shifcha saw more than Yechezkel. It would be better to say that she saw more than Yeshaya?
Moshe said to Hashem (shemos 3:13):
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל הָאֱלֹקִים הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָא אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם אֱלֹקֵי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶם שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם וְאָמְרוּ לִי מַה שְּׁמוֹ מָה אֹמַר אֲלֵהֶם
“Moshe said to Hashem, ‘Behold I will come to the benei yisroel and I will say to them, “The g-d of your fathers has sent me to you.” And they will say to me, “What is His Name?” What should I say to them?’”
וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹקִים אֶל מֹשֶׁה אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה וַיֹּאמֶר כֹּה תֹאמַר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶהְיֶה שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם
“Hashem said to Moshe, ‘I will be what I will be.’ And He said, ‘So you should say to the benei yisroel – “Eheye has sent me to you.”’
Why does the passuk initially say that Hashem’s Name is אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, and in the end it says Hashem’s name is אֶהְיֶה?
The ramban quotes a medrash that explains as follows:
ומהו אהיה אשר אהיה כשם שאתה הווה עמי כך אני הווה עמך אם פותחין את ידיהם ועושין צדקה אף אני אפתח את ידי שנאמר יפתח ה' לך את אוצרו הטוב (דברים כח יב) ואם אינן פותחין את ידיהם מה כתוב שם הן יעצור במים ויבשו וגו' (איוב יב טו)
“What does it mean אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה? Just as you are with me, so I will be with you. If they open their hands and do tzedakah, so also I will open my hand as it says ‘יפתח ה' לך את אוצרו הטוב’. And if they do not open their hands, what does it say there? ‘הן יעצור במים ויבשו’ – ‘Behold he withholds the water and they dry up.’”
The gemara says in Shabbos:
ואריב"ל בשעה שעלה משה למרום אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע מה לילוד אשה בינינו, אמר להן לקבל תורה בא, אמרו לפניו חמודה גנוזה שגנוזה לך תשע מאות ושבעים וארבעה דורות קודם שנברא העולם אתה מבקש ליתנה לבשר ודם, '...ד' אדונינו מה אדיר שמך בכל הארץ אשר תנה הודך על השמים
“Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said – When Moshe went to shamayim the malachim said before Hashem, ‘Hashem – what is a man born of a woman doing amongst us?’ He said – ‘He has come to accept the Torah.’ They said before Him, ‘A hidden treasure that is hidden for You 974 generations before the world was created – You are going to give to flesh and blood?’ ‘..Hashem…place Your Glory above the shamayim.”
Why did the malachim object to Moshe receiving the Torah?
Rabbi Chaim Volozhin z”l explains that when the benei yisroel received the Torah –the hanhagah of all the worlds was made dependant on the degree to which the benei yisroel kept the Torah. The melachim were afraid for themselves, because they would now be dependant on the level of shemiras hatorah of the benei yisroel.”
The benei yisroel asked Moshe – “What is Hashem’s name.” That means - is Hashem revealing Himself to us with a shem shel rachamim – such as Hashem, or a shem shel din, such as Elokim. Moshe’s answer to them was that it is up to you. Hashem tzilchoh – Hashem is your shadow. Hashem will behave to you as you act to others. There is no particular fixed Name that Hashem displays to the benei yisroel. This was the basis of the geulah from Mitzraim. Instead of being subservient to Pharoh – the benei yisroel would be ruled by Hashem in accordance with their actions.
This closeness between Hashem and the benei yisroel was completed at Har Sinai – despite the malachim’s objection. However the place that it was first revealed was at the Yam Suf. The gemara says in Shabbos (133b):
אבא שאול אומר ואנוהו הוי דומה לו מה הוא חנון ורחום אף אתה היה חנון ורחום
“Abba Shaul says – ‘ואנוהו’ (which can be read אני והוא) means be similar to Him. Just as he is kind and mercifull, so too you should be kind and mercifull.”
Rabbi Yitzchok Hutner z”l (Pesach 56:10) explains that not only was the mitzvah of being similar to Hashem given at krias yam suf, but also the reciprocal hanhagah of Hashem tzilchah started at krias yam suf.
Rav Hutner z"l also explains that the reason that the mareh Yechezkel is referred to in the mechiltah is because the passuk says in Yechezkel (1:26):
וְעַל דְּמוּת הַכִּסֵּא דְּמוּת כְּמַרְאֵה אָדָם עָלָיו מִלְמָעְלָה
“And on the likeness of the throne there was the likeness of the appearance of a man on it above.”
Hashem is to us as we are to others, therefore Hashem appears in the mareh Yechezkel as a man. However this hanhaga only started at the yam suf. Therefore a shifachah at the yam suf saw more than Yechezkel in this regard because Yechezkel saw the hanhagah of Hashem after the bond between Hashem and klal yisroel had been made but the shifachah saw the hanhagah at the time that it was made. The yam suf was the place that the relationship of mah hu af atah and correspondingly Hashem tzilchah was created.
The passuk in Shemos changes from ‘eheye asher eheye’ to ‘eheye’ becuase you might think that if Hashem’s hanhagah as promised to the benei yisroel in Mitzraim is always a reflection of klal yisroel's then maybe if klal yisroel turn away from Hashem all together then Hashem will turn away from them altogether, so therefore Hashem said to Moshe:
כֹּה תֹאמַר לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶהְיֶה שְׁלָחַנִי אֲלֵיכֶם
So you should say to the Benei Yisroel, אֶהְיֶה sent me to you."
Hashem was promising the benei yisroel that He would never abandon them and they would always be His people.