Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Bostoner on Names

What's in a name? Alot according to Chazal.

The Bostoner Rebbe shlit"a of RBSA was speaking during kiddush about names. The Rebbe said that we give Jewish names to create a Jewish identity for our children. Even names that have non-Jewish origins once they were adopted by the Jewish people and became "Jewish" names serve the same purpose.

This is why the Midrash teaches us that the Jews while in exile in Egypt known as Galus Mitzrayim where redeemed in the merit of the fact that they did not change their names, the style of clothing and their language.

These 3 factors are of prime importance because they create an "identity" in this case a Jewish one. The Egyptian exile is the only exile we faced before Matan Torah, before we recieved the Torah at Mt Sinai. Throughout each other exile we survived with our holy Torah protecting and guiding us. Egypt was different we had no yet recieved the Torah how did we survive that exile?

Jewish identity; created by a distinction of dressing differently, speaking differently and being called by different names.

Whats in a name? identity.

2 comments:

Gandalin said...

Dear Rabbi Zwecker,

Thank you for this very nice posting.

May I ask a question, though? When Moshe Rabbenu appeared in Midian, the daughters of the Kohain Yisro reported that they were helped in the watering of their flock by an Egyptian. On the face of it, that makes it seem as if Moshe Rabbenu must have had the appearance, at least to them, of an Egyptian. Now of course he was brought up in the Pharaoh's palace, and the masses of Klal Yisroel might not have dressed or appeared as he did.

Moreover, as far as names are concerned, the name "Moshe" was given Moshe Rabbenu by an Egyptian princess, and it certainly seems to be a typical Egyptian name (similar to Ra-mu'sheh = Rameses, Thoth-mu-sheh = Thutmose, etc).

On the other hand, it might be that to the Midianites, both the Yidden of Goshen and the rest of the inhabitants of Egypt were all Egyptian, and that even though the appearance of the Yidden was distinctive, to these outsiders it was considered Egyptian?

Any suggestions?

Dave Gruber said...

Very interesting. About 10 years ago my new wife and I went to meet the Bostoner. He told my wife to take on a new name because he did not approve of her given name.