SHEMOT – Names

The first section of the Book of Exodus opens by listing the names (Shemot in Hebrew) of Jacobs sons, and then chronicles the growth of their descendants into a nation and their enslavement in Egypt.

Pharaoh gave orders to all his people: “you must throw every boy that is born into the Nile, but you must let every girl live.” (1:22)

By instructing his people to “let every girl live,” Pharaoh meant that the Jewish girls should be raised as Egyptians. In this way he decreed that the boys be killed physically and the girls be killed spiritually. The decree to throw the boys into the Nile also alludes to immersing the Jews in Egyptian culture, for the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as the source of their livelihood and culture.

Egypt is the prototype of all exiles. In all exiles, the ruling culture urges us to raise our children in its ways, promising that this is the path to attain material and social success. As in Egypt, resisting these promises and ensuring that our children grow up cherishing the Torah’s values is what will guarantee their material, social, and spiritual happiness, as well as their freedom from the binds of exile.


Enjoy your working week and have a peaceful meaningful Shabbat.