January 20, 2017

Dear CBI members and friends,

This Shabbat we will start to read the second book of the Torah, the book of Exodus.
The name of this book in Hebrew is “Shemot” – “Names”
What is a name? Why do we keep using our Hebrew name?
It is crucial to remember the importance of our Jewish names. Every time that we are calling someone to the Torah, we are calling him/her by their Hebrew name. Not only that, we are also mentioning the name of his/her parents’ names. Why?
Because it shows that we are part of a long chain and that we have deep roots in the past. It is not an accident that “WE” are here, it is because our ancestors kept their tradition and we belong to this long chain that started with Abraham our father and Sarah our mother. It also shows that we are proud to belong to this tradition and we have a real connection with our history.
The Midrash teaches us that there are reasons that we did not despair after 400 hundred years of slavery in Egypt.
When the children of Israel were redeemed from Egypt, the Midrash says it was in the merit of three things that the Creator took note of their suffering and decided to ensure their survival.  It mentioned that “They did not change their names, their language, and their mode of dress.” First and most important was the fact that they maintained their attachment to their “true selves” by remaining loyal to their given names.
We have a responsibility to do it for our children.

I wish you Shabbat Shalom Umevorach!

Rabbi Gad Romang