Shalom and Bracha!
This Shabbat we read the portion of Shemot, which describes the
beginning of the Egyptian servitude, the birth and rise of Moshe
Rabbeinu (Moses), Hashem’s revelation in the burning bush, and
the beginning of Moshe’s mission to redeem the Jewish people.
The lessons from this portion guide us to the redemption from
this exile, may it come speedily.
The name of the portion, Shemot, means names. Before the
servitude, Hashem counted the Jewish people and mentioned them
by name, both of which are significant signs of dearness and
empowered the Jewish people to endure the exile. According to
Jewish law, non kosher items that are counted and accidently get
mixed with kosher items do cannot be ignored, even if their
ratio is insignificant. This is because by counting, we express
the significance of each individual item, rather than its weight
or measure. When Hashem counted the children of Israel, He
assured that no Jew was insignificant compared to the multitude
of Egyptians. Recounting each of names is a sign of both
affection and intensification of identity. Before the servitude
Hashem proclaimed his love for us and gave us the strength to
retain our identity. This is a lesson that in the current exile
that Hashem has given each of us the strength to retain our
Jewish identity and that He loves and cares for each of us
individually. Reflecting thereon, we must be concerned that not
a single Jew lose his Jewish identity and respect his unique
bond with G-d.
The Midrash teaches that one of the merits by which the Jews
left Egypt is that they retained their Jewish names. Our Hebrew
names are a special part of our identity, our unique title which
defines our bond with Hashem. Chassidut teaches that the Hebrew
name represents the bond of the body and the soul, and that by
using our Hebrew names we empower our souls. We see the power of
names in the narratives of our patriarchs. Before Sarah could
have children, Hashem changed her name. Before the conception of
Yitzchak, Hashem changed Avraham’s name.
When Hashem spoke to Moshe from the burning bush, He said “And
now the cries of the Jewish people have come before me and I
have seen their torment.” Although Hashem was well aware of the
torment the Jewish people suffered under Egyptian slavery, and
He had promised the forefathers to redeem the Jewish people from
Egypt, Hashem stressed that “I have heard their cries.” This
teaches us that we must constantly beseech Hashem for the
redemption, until our cries will finally be heard. Until we ask,
He doesn’t answer.
Hashem continued and told Moshe “When you will redeem the people
from Egypt, they will serve Hashem upon this mountain.” With
these words, Hashem explained to Moshe the true meaning of the
Exodus and the core of the Jewish people. The Exodus was not
simply emancipation from physical slavery. The Exodus created a
people with a unique bond to G-d, a spiritual Exodus which
lifted the Jewish people beyond the confines of the mundane
world. When we seek Moshiach, we must seek more than physical
comfort and freedom. We must seek a world where we can feel the
presence of Hashem everywhere and we constantly get closer to
After Moshe announced the redemption, for a limited time the
servitude got worse. To further the confusion, Moshe
disappeared. In fact, these were the final preparations for the
redemption. This is a powerful lesson. Sometime, we improve our
ways expecting immediate blessing from Hashem in response. The
delays we experience are for our own good. We must not lose
faith when we don’t see expected results.
As we study the first redemption may we speedily merit the final
redemption through Moshiach!
Project of Chabad of Great Neck
East Shore Rd. Great Neck NY 11024
4874554 fax 516 4874807