It is quite rare to refer to Hashem with the word Mokom which means place. While Hashem is called Mokom because He fills all of space, we rarely refer to Him by this Name. We find that when Avrohom was looking for the place upon which to sacrifice his son, the Torah says that he saw the “Place” from afar. Rashi says that he saw a cloud upon the mountain and realized that this was the place to which he should go. The cloud was a sign of G-d’s Presence. Yet we rarely find Hashem referred to in this manner. One therefore wonders why nearly in the entire Haggada we find ourselves using this particular Name of “Mokom” rather than the usual ones? For instance we say “kamo maalas tovos la’Mokom aleinu” or “al achas kamo v’kamo, tovoh u’mchupeles l’mokom oleinu.” We also say “v’achshav ka’rav’tonu H’Mokom l’avodoso.” Why don’t we refer to Hashem the way we normally do? Why of all His many Names do we use the Name Mokom?
As we all know, we start the story of Yetzias Mitzrayim from the time our fathers served idols. “Mitchila ovdei avoda zarah hoyu avoseinu” is the way we begin the Haggada. Idol worship dates back to the time of Enosh who introduced it.
It was Avrohom Ovinu that began to realize on his very own that this entire practice of serving the sun or the stars was worthless and was only a delusion and that there had to exist a higher power that created and ran this marvelous universe. And while He couldn’t be seen, Avrohom was convinced that He must certainly be here.
While he had absolutely no knowledge as to Who this Creator was, or what He was all about, he refused to worship or bow down to any force in nature no matter how important or powerful it seemed. To him the concept of G-d was that of “mokom” which means place. While one could not actually see G-d, he believed that He was here and in fact was all over. There is no place in the entire universe that He cannot be found. “Les asar ponui minei.”
Avrohom’s belief in G-d began with the simple concept of Mokom. He was here. He was everywhere. His belief was so strong that even though Hashem had never revealed Himself to him and never spoken to him, he was willing to allow himself to be thrown into a fire rather then serve idols. His miraculous survival proved to all that he was right. His strong belief in Hashem was reconfirmed once again when Hashem Himself appeared to him and told him to go to some far off land which would be given to him. While it may have sounded strange that Hashem had not given him more precise directions, he nevertheless didn’t ask any questions and went as he was told. He was sure that G-d has His reasons for not giving him exact instructions and realized that it wasn’t for man to question Him. In fact he was ready to listen to whatever Hashem told him even if it made no sense at all. He was even ready to sacrifice his own son Yitzchak despite the fact that it went against all logic. Wasn’t G-d a Merciful One that never allowed human sacrifices? Didn’t Hashem promise him that his son Yitzchak would turn into a large nation? How could G-d contradict Himself? Avrohom realized that man couldn’t understand any of Hashem’s Middos (referred to as His attributes) and he must follow what he was being told despite the fact that it didn’t seem to make sense. Hashem to him was on the level of ‘Mokom,” He existed. He was here. He was everywhere. While one can’t see Him nor understand His ways, nevertheless one must obey His every command even if it goes against all logic. His presence is always hidden in a dark cloud as when Moshe went into Har Sini, he went into the “arofel” which means pitch black. His ways are concealed from us.
While the many Names of G-d refer to His many attributes, and refer to the way we perceive G-d, the Name “Mokom,” however doesn’t describe Him as Merciful or by any of His other attributes. All it means is that He exists and that He is everywhere. In fact we find that even the heavenly angels themselves ask “ayeh mekom kevodo l’haaritzo?” – where is His holy place to praise Him? We also pray that “mimkomcha Malkeinu sofia…” – that He reveal Himself and rule over us. Avrohom taught us that we must do whatever Hashem tells us to do even if we do not understand the reason for His commandments. After all, if we truly believe that He is G-d, then how dare we question His wisdom?
And so when Hashem told him that his children would go into exile and suffer in a strange land, he accepted G-d’s decree without asking any questions. Hashem saw this as a great righteousness on his part. (“Va’yh’chash’veho lo l’tzdaka.” )
And so when Hashem offered to give us the Torah we asked Him no questions as to what it demanded of us. We simply replied that “we were ready to do and to listen.” We don’t have to know the reason why Hashem commands us to do certain things and we may never know the reason but we do it anyway. That’s because we have full faith in Him and we know that He knows best and His commandments are in our best interest because He is our Father and loves us.
And so even when seemingly bad things happen to man and we don’t understand why, we nevertheless accept G-d’s judgement the way Avrohom did, even if it is beyond our comprehension.
Perhaps this is why when we comfort a mourner we use the expression of “Hamokom yenachem…” While we may not know the reason, we fully accept Hashem’s judgement for we have full faith in Him and know with great certainty that He knows what’s best for us! When we pray for those in trouble we say “Hamokom yeracheim a’layhem, voyotziem…” We pray that Hashem Who is all over come to their rescue. That’s because a real G-d is One we must follow blindly as Avrohom had done. If we think we know better or that we may question Him, then our belief in G-d can’t be worth much. We must follow his decrees blindly even if we can’t grasp their reason. That’s because G-d certainly knows what’s best for us!
We begin the Haggadah by thanking Hashem for appearing to our father Avrohom and letting him know that He will be with us throughout golus Mitzrayim, and eventually take us out from there “b’rchush godol.”. We begin with “boruch Ha’Mokom, boruch Hu” because while we may not know the reason for being exiled to Mitzrayim, we are sure that Hashem did it for our own good.
Next, we thank Hashem for giving us the Torah. It was only through His Torah that we got a better understanding of what our purpose in life is and how we can properly serve our Creator. It is only by way of the Torah that we are able to reach a much higher level of understanding His thirteen attributes. And so we continue by thanking Hashem for giving us the Torah. “Boruch she’nosan Torah l’amo Yisroel.” It was our exile in Mitzrayim that ultimately led to “kabolas Ha’torah.”
And so on the night of Pesach when we are commanded “v’hegadeta l’vincha” to tell our children the story of yetzias mitzrayim, it must be done with the concept of “Mokom.” We must believe in Hashem the way our father Avraham did. He just did what Hashem told him to do. While we encourage our children to ask questions, they must at the same time know that we don’t know all the answers. That’s because we may not be able to comprehend why Hashem made us suffer through a golus Mitzrayim, but we have blind faith in Him and know that it ultimately was for our own benefit and led to Kabolas Ha’Torah..
And so too, as we continue to wander through a nearly two thousand year golus that keeps getting darker and darker, we must never lose faith in Hashem or dare question His Ways even when great tragedy may chas v”shalom strike. Even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust we must ask no questions. We must remain as silent as Aron Ha’kohen. When his two sons were struck by a heavenly fire it was “va’yidom Aaron.” We must always remember that “Iti onochi b’tzoro.” Even in this dark bitter golus night, Hashem is there with us. The Shchina is right here in golus with us. Even though we may not see Him, we know that He is here.
We understand Hashem only on the simple level of “Mokom.” It is this blind faith that we must implant into our children no matter which one of the four children is sitting at our Seder table. Let’s let them know that we are sure that the time will certainly soon come when just as in the days of old, Hashem showed us great miracles, so too will we see them once again as He takes us out from the present long dark and bitter golus. Only then will we realize that the suffering was all for our own good. It will be “odcha Hashem ki onafta be.” May we merit it soon in our days.