Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Parshas Shemos

Exodus

By Rabbi Label Lam

And these are the names of the Children of Israel who came to Egypt; Yaakov, each man and his household came… (Shemos 1:1)

Why does the Torah tell us “these are the names”? It should rather tell us these are the Children of Israel. The emphasis seems to be on the names. The entire book, “Shemos”,is named “Names”! As the old Shakespearean quote goes, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, a name is rather enormous.

Over the years while my wife labored in child birth I labored, not quite as hard, on the task the naming. When our oldest son was born 27 plus years ago I was waiting for a lightning bolt of prophecy to land on my head with a name from heaven. I had read that one of the last vestiges of prophecy is when parents are naming children. Without the actual lightning, by the end of the process, I was certain that a prophecy played a role in our boy’s name.

Who could even think names!? Within the first few days of new parenthood we were busy with the caterer and the Mohel and making sure they and the baby would all be ready on the same day. Days before the Bris my wife was busy bathing the little nameless Tzadikal. She asked if I would dial the phone and call my mother-in-law. Now my mother-in-law had survived the Holocaust and she had lost some of her hearing. When she answered the phone I had a perfect opportunity to solve a problem that had had been bothering me since the first days of marriage. I had a hard time calling my in-laws mom or dad. (Eventually I was able to do it) So when my mother-in-law answered the phone I asked, “What do you want to be called, “Bubby or Grandma?” She cried and started repeating with big emotion, “Call him Chaim after my father!”

I gave the phone to my wife and she explained to me that her mother thought I said, “What do you want him to be called?” It seems we were stuck with the name Chaim. I fought it though. My wife’s name is Chaya. Can a Chaya have a Chaim? We called a Rav and he assured us that they are two different names.

However we were also told that perhaps since this Chaim had perished in the Holocaust it might be worthy to add a name for better Mazel. So we began contemplating a second name. My wife liked Moshe. I had lost a little brother Moshe. He needed a second name. Reb Moshe Feinstein had passed away a year or so earlier. My wife has an illustrious family tree that reaches to Moshe Isserles the Rama. The Chaim needs a Moshe. The Moshe needs a Chaim and Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the Mesilas Yesharim is my favorite, can we say, author!?

My wife then remembered a rare personal discussion we had with a very great Rabbi who shared with us, for some reason, a deep personal error he and his wife had committed. They named one of their sons, let’s say, Shlomo Nechemia, after the Rebbetzin’s departed father Nechemia. When the mother-in-law, a great women herself, realized that her husband’s name was in 2nd place she did not talk to them for months. Whenever they called him, they practically swallowed the first name and then they exaggerated the second name. We can’t name him Moshe Chaim. It must be Chaim Moshe.

Then I remembered that on the refrigerator where pictures and invitations come and go there remained for months and essay by a Chassidishe boy, in a fourth grade English class where I taught. I ran over to look again. His name was Chaim Moshe. This kid was so unusually wise and I was so impressed by him I did something no teacher should do. I repeated to the class dozens of times emphatically, “I wish my own son should be like this Chaim Moshe”. I had no son yet. It was crazy, but I said it. When we made the Bris and I came to teach that day the boys wanted to know the baby’s name. I told’m, “Chaim Moshe”. This boy came over to me and said, “You said you wanted your son to be like Chaim Moshe!”

There’s a lot in his name and everyone’s name. Those names are not just arbitrary syllables but rather raw seeds of holy potentiality being planted into the dark soil of Egypt, made to experience exile only in order to demonstrate the incredible power of exodus.


DvarTorah, Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Label Lam and Torah.org.


 






ARTICLES ON NETZAVIM AND VAYEILECH:

View Complete List

Personal Business Plan
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5764

G-d's Concealment
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Duality of Emotion
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

ArtScroll

Family Values
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5769

Don't Use Rav Alleh's Hechsher - It's a Kuntz!
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

Time for Teshuvah
Shlomo Katz - 5769

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Parting Words
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

After the Ashes
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5761

Vested Interest
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Going in the Direction of Teshuva
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Where Torah and Life Meet
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

On a Personal Note
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

> Touching One's Essence
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5771

Timely Words
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Fear-Yes; Hopelessness-No!
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5758

A Higher Holiday
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information