Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Lesson of Moshe’s Name

The Yalkut Shimoni quotes a tradition that Moshe had ten additional names.
He was called Levi- because he was a member of that tribe.
He was called Tuviyah, because there was goodness that was visible from the time of his birth.
Miriam called her brother Yered, because she went down to the Nile to see what would happen to her baby brother. 
Aharon called his brother (Avi) Zanuach “master of rejection” because Moshe’s father left his mother, but he came back to her after the birth of Moshe.
Along the same lines he was called Chever (to join) because he caused his parents to reunite.
His grandfather Kehat called him Avigdor, literally “master of the fence”- Avi G’dor, because after Moshe’s birth, Pharaoh was fenced in and gave up on his decree to drown all Jewish baby boys.
His mother called him Yekutiel, related to the word for hope- as a prayer that she hoped to one day be reunited with her son.
He was also called (Avi) Socho- Master of Prophecy - because he would grow up to become the greatest Jewish prophet of all time.

                In this week’s Daf Hashavua (Megilah 13, which meets weekly in the library on Tuesdays after the 8:00 a.m. Minyan) we learned different reasons for these names (based on a verse in Divrei Hayamim I:4:18):

Yered: because Moshe facilitated the Manna to fall in the wilderness.
(Avi)gdor: because Moshe helped mend the breach between God and the Jewish People after the sin of the golden calf.
Chever: because Moshe connected the Jewish People to their Father in Heaven.
Socho: because Moshe was able to provide protection to the Jewish People, through Hashem, like a sukkah.
Yekutiel: because Moshe encouraged the Jewish People to trust in Hashem.
(Avi) Zanuach: because Moshe was able to push aside the people’s sins.

                And then there is the name Moshe. In Parshat Shemot we are told how and why Moshe got this name. After being placed in a basket in the Nile River, the daughter of Pharaoh finds the boy and saves him. After the boy grows up we are told that (2:10): “she called him Moshe, as she said, for I drew him from the water”. Although he had all these names, God and the Torah only refer to him as Moshe. The Midrash at the beginning of Sefer Vayikra is emphatic on this point. Vayikra el Moshe: It states that Hashem said to Moshe, “By your life! Of all your names, I will only call you by the name given to you by Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh.”  What is it about the name Moshe, given by the Egyptian princess, that is worthy of being the only name by which God calls him?

                Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski suggests that the most formative experience of Moshe’s life was the fact that his adoptive mother was willing to sacrifice everything in order to save the young boy. Although he probably didn’t remember the incident, Moshe surely knew the story of how he got his name. This story of self-sacrifice accompanied Moshe his entire life, shaped his attitude towards others, and provided him with the strength to similarly sacrifice on behalf of the Jewish People.

                More important than the lessons we try to inculcate into our children with our words, are the lessons that we teach through our actions. Do the right thing, as much as possible and as often as possible, when your children are watching you- even if they don’t intellectually understand what they’re seeing. By doing so you will leave a legacy not only on the beneficiaries of your good deeds, but on the beneficiaries of the good deeds performed by your children inspired by your model.

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