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Beyond Silence: Unveiling Names, Identity, and Solidarity
in the Exodus Narrative [שמות]

"A man of the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi." "The woman conceived and bore a son, and [when] she saw him that he was good, she hid him for three months". "His sister stood from afar to know what would be done to him." "Pharaoh's daughter went down to bathe."

All these verses, or parts of the verses we have brought, need one thing - names. We want to know who the man is, who the woman is, who the child is, who the daughter of Pharaoh is, and who the sister is. We know from other sources, but the text intentionally omits the characters' names here. This is meant to convey an erasure of names within the context of Egypt. While our portion begins with the words 'Now these are the names of the sons of Israel,' names gradually disappear as we progress through the narrative.

Egypt refers to individuals in an impersonal' way that does not recognize the personal value of the person. Only with Moses is it written, "She named him Moses." What does Moses mean? Moses is an Egyptian term for the word- Boy . "she said, "For I drew him from the water." a Hebrew interpretation of an Egyptian name, meaning only after Moses flees to Midian and marries Zipporah - ah, suddenly there are names, the names of Moses, Jethro, Reuel, Zipporah, and their son Gershom, and also the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, is finally revealed when He says to Moses, 'Do you want to know My name? Here is My name.'

We understand that our forefathers were 'immersed' in Egypt - in the terminology of 'erasure' - in the depth of a culture that has been erased. Therefore, Moses had to decide to which culture he belonged. When it is written, 'Moses went out to his brothers,' we need to ask who they are. Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra believes it refers to the Egyptians, while the Ramban says it refers to the Hebrews. Moses had to clarify for himself, so he went to investigate. When he found an Egyptian striking a Hebrew, he understood and felt that the Hebrew people were his brothers. Moses' solidarity brought him to this realization, connecting him with the fate of the Hebrew people, as he identified with their suffering."


More Weekly Portions

Integrating Personal and Communal Well-Being through Torah
[Nasso]

Parshat Nasso addresses individual and family issues while emphasizing the collective unity through the Priestly Blessing. This blessing, structured in three levels, reflects a balance between material and spiritual needs: "May HaShem bless you and watch over you." for wealth, "May HaShem cause His countenance to shine to you" for spiritual illumination through Torah, and "May HaShem lift up His countenance upon you and grant you peace" for the deep connection of Nefesh, Ruah, and Neshama. The Torah guides to integrate personal and communal well-being harmoniously.

Beyond the Count: Individual Worth and Collective Unity
[Bemidbar]

Parshat Bamidbar discusses the commandment to count the Israelites, focusing on those eligible for the army. This count underscores the tension between collective and individual identities. The Torah uses the expression "number of names," signifying the importance of both the collective and the individual. The Torah teaches that true unity blends these aspects, with the collective gaining meaning through each individual's uniqueness. This concept is reflected in the principle of "generalization and specification" in scriptural interpretation, with hidden meanings in the numbers, explored through the gematria.

Tears of Exile, Seeds of Hope: The Unbreakable Bond Between God and Israel
[Bechukotai]

Parashat Bechukotai discusses the covenant between God and Israel, emphasizing the importance of repentance for redemption. The Talmudic debate between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua delves into whether redemption is contingent on teshuva. Rashi's commentary interprets the ambiguous term "או" to support both views. This dual perspective highlights the Torah's open interpretation, showing that redemption can depend on human repentance or divine promise, reflecting a complex interplay of conditions in Judaism's understanding of historical progress.

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