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The name of the names

Written by Rabbi Doniel Leeman

By means of an introduction to the account of the exile to Egypt, it is recorded “And these are the names of the Children of Israel who were coming to Egypt…” [1]. We have a tradition that the introduction “and these” generally comes to add on to something mentioned previously [2]. But being that this is the beginning of a new book of the Torah, what is being added here? Similarly all the names of the Children of Israel are subsequently listed, and even if there was someone else omitted for some reason, why not simply mention his name explicitly?

About a year after becoming a divorcee, Chaim reluctantly agreed that, at least for his children’s sake, he would have to remarry.
Re-entering the dating scene was a very difficult experience. The only thing that kept him going was his Rabbi’s constant support and advice. One day, Chaim’s Rabbi approached him and offered some advice: soon it will be the festival of Shavuos, when in the special prayers we will pray that the Temple be rebuilt. I would suggest that you have special concentration for this part of the prayers, for who like you understands what it is like to have your house destroyed. Perhaps if you share in G-d’s suffering over His destroyed house, He will share in yours, and grant you with a new wife. It sounded strange at first, but after while Chaim took to the idea.
And so, after much anticipation and spiritual preparation, that Shavuos, Chaim prayed like never before and felt deep sorrow over the loss of the Temple – the house of G-d, and also over his lost house. Just three days later he met his new wife-to-be!

(It seems that Chaim’s prayers were even more powerful than necessary, as pointed out by Chaim’s Rabbi: the week of his wedding coincided with the inauguration celebration of his synagogues new building – a mini-temple – in which Chaim was instrumental.)

G-d declared: “I am with him in his distress” [3].

“And these are the names of the Children of Israel who were coming to Egypt…”
Who is being included? G-d!
Indeed in the previous book of the Torah we learned all about G-d, and we have even been taught that it was only taught in order to teach us about His powers and His love for us [4], and so it makes sense that it is He who is being included.
Additionally “v’eileh” (“and these”) has a numerical value of 42: the number of letters in (one of) G-d’s name(s). It can also be re-arranged to spell ‘Elo-hah’, also meaning G-d.

Being that G-d is referred to as ‘Hashem’, meaning ‘The Name’, the verse now reads beautifully: In addition to (the name of) Hashem (i.e. G-d), these are the names of the Children of Israel who also went to Egypt…
In fact we have been taught explicitly that He is always with us: even throughout our troubles and eventually to provide us with our salvation [5].

Now we can also understand why He is not mentioned explicitly: because He is not ‘with’ us unconditionally; He is only fully with those who believe that He is with them [6].

So long as we remember Him, He will remember us… may we merit seeing that day soon in our days.

Have a ‘with-it’ Shabbos,


Additional sources:
Story: Stories that Warm the Heart, R’ Binyomin Pruzansky, p. 127
[1] Shemos 1:1
[2] See Rashi, Shemos 21:1 (Medrash Tanchuma, Mishpatim 3; Medrash Rabba, Shemos 30:3) and also addressed with a different focus by Rashi on our verse
[3] Tehillim 91:15
[4] Rashi, Bereishis 1:1
[5] Megilla 29a; Tehillim 91:15
[6] See Tehillim 91

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