What is the significance of the statement that "Hashem appeared to Avraham"?
Seforno: This always denotes a level below that of prophecy. 1
This explains why, at the beginning of Va'era, Hashem told Moshe that He did not make Himself known to the Avos with the Name of Hashem (i.e. at the level of prophecy).
"Kel" symbolizes strength. What does "Shakai" symbolize?
Rashi: It denotes that Hashem can supply each of His creations with their needs. Consequently, If Avraham will go in His ways, 1 He will be for him a G-d and a patron (to protect him and provide him with all his needs).
Ramban #1 (citing the Moreh Nevuchim) and Seforno: Hashem is self-sufficient and needs nobody any of His creations to assist Him.
Ramban #2 (citing the Ibn Ezra, who cites the Nagid) 2 : He is all-powerful, and vanquishes all the hosts of the Heaven (to do as He sees fit, without any of the celestial powers standing in His way). 3
And follows Him with Temimus (See next Pasuk).
Whose explanation the Ramban prefers.
And Hashem mentioned it at this point, to inform Avraham that He rules over the Mazalos, to perform hidden miracles for the Tzadikim, to save them from death, to sustain them in time of famine and to stand by their side in battle, (as He did constantly to the Avraham and the Avos). Constantly, He would exert His jurisdiction over Avraham's Mazal (which foretold that he could not have children (from Sarah), and they would bear a son in one' year's time. Furthermore, He was now entering a covenant with him and his children forever, that they would be 'His portion' and that He personally, would lead them (and not leave them under the jurisdiction of any star or Mazal).
Why did the Avos never refer to Hashem directly by His revered four-letter Name - only by Hashem Elokim (spelt irregularly) or Kel Shakai, as opposed to Moshe Rabeinu, who referred to it constantly (and never to that of Kel Shakai)?
Ramban: This is because the Avos prophesied with what is known as "Ispaklarya she'Einah Me'irah" (an unclear vision), whereas Moshe prophesied with "Ispaklarya ha'Me'irah" (a clear vision). 1
The Ramban will clarify this in more detail at the beginning of Parshas Va'era.
What is the significance of (a) "His'halech Lefanai" (b) "v'Heyei Tamim"?
Rashi #1 (citing Targum Onkelus): (a) 'Cleave to My Avodah'; (b) 'Be perfect, by passing all the tests that I place before you'.
Rashi #3 (citing Pirkei de'R. Eliezer): (a) Perform the Bris Milah and (b) become spiritually complete, because until now you have been lacking five limbs (i.e. you did not have full jurisdiction over them) - your two eyes, your two ears 3 and the Ever ha'Milah. 4
Ramban #1: (a) To follow along the path on which Hashem leads him - to do His will even before he has been commanded, and to fear Him, and Him alone; 5 (b) To believe that Hashem alone is in charge, and not to follow the predictions of magicians and sorcerers, as Hashem alone has the power to enact and to negate for better or for worse. And He will do it for better on behalf of those who follow the path on which He leads them.
Ramban #2 (citing the Ibn Ezra): (2) Not to query Hashem about the Milah.
Seforno: (1): Wherever Avraham goes, he should look at Him, because the highest form of perfection that a human-being can attain is knowing Hashem and going in His ways. 6
Mishnas R. Aharon 3 p.117: Perfection is specifically through Milah, which is in the body itself, unlike other Mitzvos.
Because a person who has an Orlah (who is not circumcised) is considered blemished in the Eyes of Hashem.
Riva, citing E. Elyakim: Before the Bris, his eyes and ears could not see or hear Hashem. This is why he fell on his face, due to fear of the Shechinah. (Perhaps "see Hashem" refers to the image (angel) that Nevi'im saw when Hashem spoke to them (refer to 31:13:152:2). Alternatively, it is "Hashem's honor", like Targum Onkelos of "they saw Hashem" - Shemos 24:11). (PF)
That is why Hashem added a 'Hei' to his name, changing it from Avram to Avraham. Hence, the Gemara in Shabbos (156a), commenting on the Pasuk above (Bereishis 16:5), cites HaKadosh-Baruch Hu as saying to Avraham "Leave aside your astrology! Avram cannot have children, Avraham can!'
Whereas the Lashon to go "Acharei Hashem refers to obey Hashem after the command has been issued.
As Hashem declared when He created man "Let us make man in our form and in our image!"
רש"י: עכשיו אתה חסר חמשה אברים: למה עד המילה הוא היה חסר את האיברים האלה?
גור אריה: בר"ן בנדרים (דף לב:) כתוב שבעיניים ובאוזניים פעמים שאדם רואה ושומע דבר איסור, והערלה מאוסה, ואילו אחר המילה הוא השתמש בהם רק לדבר מצוה.
גור אריה: עד המילה היה צריך לכבוש את יצרו, ואחר המילה היו איבריו ברשותו ולא היה צריך להתגבר על היצר.
מהר"ל (חידושי אגדות ח"ב עמ' יא, ד"ה המליכו, נדרים דף לב:): אברהם רכב על החמור- על החומר ומלך עליו (רמ"ח בגימטריא חמר) ואפי' על איברים עליונים אלו, והחומר הפחות מונע את המעלה האלוקית, ולכן כאשר הסיר את הערלה מלך גם על האיברים הבלתי גשמיים והוסיף לו ה' אות משמו. 1
וע"ע בדרך חיים פ"ה מ"ב, עמ' רכ, ד"ה ויש לך.
למה נקרא אברהם תמים רק על ידי המילה?