“I am (anochi) Hashem your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt…” (Exodus 20:2).
Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Ishbitz offers a profound observation about this text in his Chassidic masterpiece Mei HaShiloach. He points out that ordinarily, the Hebrew word for “I” is ANI. However, the Almighty introduces Himself with the more unusual form ANOCHI.
ANOCHI is essentially the word ANI with the letter “chaf” added. This letter is known as the “chaf ha’dimyon” – the letter of similitude. ANOCHI expresses the idea that G-d is not revealing the fullness and entirety of Himself to Israel.
Humans are simply not capable of taking in or comprehending G-d’s pure essence (Exodus 33:20, Isaiah 55:8-9). ANOCHI conveys: You’re getting a bit of Me. This is “like” Me – but don’t think you’ve got Me all figured out.
This is why this verse followed by the directive to not make graven images. We are being told that we can’t neatly define G-d in human terms We can’t put Him into a box of our making.
By Rabbi Michael Skobac
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