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Parshat Shemot


This week’s Torah portion Shemot “names” is the first of the second book of the Torah. This parshah is especially resonant with the joyous celebration of an addition to my family. My sister in law and brother in New York thank G-d were blessed with a boy last week. As for every Jewish newborn, after eight days from birth he was named. His name is Ezra Yehuda. It struck me what a beautiful name it is and what power names hold and their true ability to reflect one’s identity.

Moshe received his name in this weeks parshah. The name Moshe, in Hebrew - מֹשֶׁה, is derived from the word in verse 2:10 “מִן הַמַיִם מְשִׁיתִֽהוּ” - “For I drew him from the water.” Thus the name Moshe means ‘to draw out’.

Moshe is drawn out of the water in a basket his mother Yocheved had placed him in by Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh. This is what it states in the Torah (Shemot 2:5).

“Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bath in the Nile, and her maidens were walking along the Nile, and she saw the basket among the reeds, and she sent her maidservant, and she took it.

What Batya notices, her maidservants do not. The maidservants were walking along the Nile but did not see the basket which Moshe was placed inside of. Batya had the ability to notice and observe what others could not.

“To draw out” may represent another meaning. That is “to notice” I.e. to observe life closely and notice the out of the ordinary; the hiddenness of G-d.

Another section of the parshah where this meaning is displayed is the account of Moshe and the Burning Bush. Moshe was leading his father in law Yisro’s flock of sheep into the desert when an angel of Hashem appeared to him in a fiery flame in a thornbush. Moshe noticed that there was something rather unusual. The bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not being consumed by the fire.

Moshe went even further to notice and examined the tree closer and asked “why will the thorn bush not burn?”

“And God saw that he [Moshe] had turned to see...” - (Shemot 3:4)

In life, often there are moments where we tend overlook and struggle to seek their meanings. We move on and put it on the sidelines. The toughest challenge is to actually notice the miracles amongst the mundane of life - to be caught amongst the thorns and reeds. It is that which Moshe’s name signifies. To seek, to draw out their meaning, to notice the spectacular. The hidden face of Hashem.

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