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The King’s Crier

In Berishis, just before Yaakov blesses Ephraim and Menasseh, Yaakov blesses Yosef with the peculiar preamble: “HaElokim asher heesalchu avosay,” “the G-d before whom my fathers walked”.

The Midrash gives the explanation I had always understood: as sheep before a shepherd. Reish Lakish takes it a step further: as elders walking before a prince.

Think of it instead as criers before a king, who is walking through the streets. The criers create the reality – in shouted word – of the king’s majesty. If the king were to walk through the streets without a crier, they might go unnoticed, except by the most discerning of observers. As indeed Hashem was unnoticed by the masses before Avraham and Yitzchak became his criers. There is a quote “Ein melech b’lo am” – there is no king without people – people who presumably recognize the fact of the king.

Avraham and Yitzchak (and by extension, all Jews), create the reality of G-d’s majesty in the eyes of the world, and do it with the spoken word (the basic tool of creation that Hashem used to make the world). All in four words.

By contrast, Noach, whose name literally means “comfortable” is analogous to the guy on the balcony who notices the king in the crowd, but does not raise a fuss, and bring his knowledge to the general public.

Comments are welcome!