- The Torah World Gateway
Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shmot


Rabbi Stewart WeissTevet 19 5779
Click to dedicate this lesson
Our Sedra of Shmot – also known as Sefer HaGeula, the story of our Redemption – begins the dramatic, cataclysmic narrative of our emergence as a full-fledged nation. But something strange is going on here: The beginning of Shmot sounds awfully familiar to us!

The names of Yakov’s children? We covered that before, way back in Vayishlach (35:23-27). The number of people who came down to Egypt? Learned that in Vayigash 46:8-27). And the death of Yosef? You remember that – it was just last week that we read it in Parshat Vayechi (50:26)! So why is all this information being repeated?! I’d have thought that Parshat Shmot should begin with pasuk 8, "And a new king arose in Egypt that did not know Yosef."Why would the Torah uncharacteristically repeat itself in these first 7 verses? What message is being sent to us?

The Book of Shmot is truly a new chapter in Jewish history. After centuries of focusing Am Yisrael around powerful personalities – Avraham, Sara, Yitzchak, Rivka, Yakov, Rachel, Leah & Yosef – we now are moving away from the individual & entering Nation-mode, where the collective will take precedence over the individual. Indeed, the first 8 1/2 p’sukim in chapter 2, describing the birth of Moshe & his adoption by Paro’s daughter, will be conspicuously marked by a lack of names. No less than 8 pronouns are used in order to mask the characters: Man, woman, daughter, sister, son, mother, nurse & child, instead of Amram, Yocheved, Miriam, Batya & Moshe.

But, I suggest, that puzzling preamble to the story - those first 7 p’sukim that names names - is the Torah’s way of telling us that before we can make that necessary, inevitable move into Peoplehood, we must remember from where we came & who we are. We must never allow our identities to vanish into oblivion; our names represent both the greatness of our past – that is why we are called to the Torah or blessed with health using both our own name & that of a parent – as well as our own personal, intrinsic nature & essence.

Our name defines our soul, & that is why the word Shem-name is the center of the word Neshama-soul.

Governments, especially tyrannical ones, often seek to de-humanize its subjects by replacing their names with a number, or a catch-word. The Nazis, of course, assigned numbers to their victims; the Communists called everyone"Comrade;" even the British Secret Service hid their agents’ identities behind code-words like "M" or "007." But our Bond (pun intended) with our history & forebears is not only what led us to this point – whatever point we are currently at – it defines our Mesora & our mission.

Want to know what brings Redemption? Just name it.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
More on the topic of Shmot

It is not possible to send messages to the Rabbis through replies system.Click here to send your question to rabbi.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר