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This week's Torah Portion: 

13 SH'MOT - NAMES - EXODUS 1:1-6:1

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וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמֹות בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הַבָּאִים מִצְרָיְמָה אֵת יַעֲקֹב אִישׁ וּבֵיתֹו בָּֽאוּ

v'Eyleh sh'mot b'ney yisra'el haba'im mitz'raymah eyt ya'akov ish uveyto ba'u

"These are the names of the sons of Isra'el who came into Egypt with Ya'akov; each man came with his household:"


This week we begin a new book of the Torah. The familiar English title “Exodus” was applied much later when the Torah was canonized, but the Hebrew name “Sh’mot,” derived from the first few words in the book, has always been the title among the Jewish community. The root word “shem” (say “shame”) means “name.” Moreover, it is the name of the eldest son of Noach. If you will remember, Shem was the recipient of the righteous blessing in B’resheet (Genesis) 9:24-27. Etymologically, we derive the modern word “Semitic” from this man’s name. A Semite is a descendant of Shem. According to B’resheet chapters 10, and 11, Avraham was a descendant of Shem, thus, the Hebrew People, as well as the Arabic Peoples, spring from the Semitic race. Also, the word “HaShem,” which is what I and many other Orthodox Jewish People call God, is made from the Hebrew words “ha,” meaning “the,” and “Shem” meaning “name”; thus, “HaShem” literally means “The Name.” So, Sh’mot means “names.”

Parashat Sh’mot signals the beginning of the most significant event in the history of the Jewish Nation: the Exodus from Mitzrayim (Egypt). Why is it so significant? It is the Exodus from Egypt that brought the great multitude to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah of HaShem. Surely it is significant for us believers today, for only after our deliverance from Egypt (sin), does HaShem graciously give us his written revelation, the Torah, written upon the tablets of our circumcised hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Only with circumcised hearts can we worship him in spirit and in truth, according to his Will. Also, as we shall discover during this book, the deliverance from Egypt is meant to forever signify, to those who have genuinely experienced it, a deliverance from bondage.

This bondage, taught elsewhere in the rest of the Torah, has been characterized as a type of sin. Moreover, we as believers in Messiah Yeshua are taught that this physical deliverance of the Jewish People, from Egypt, is a picture of our deliverance from the bondage that sin held us in, prior to coming to Yeshua. It is significant, therefore, that we as non-Jewish believers, gain an appreciative understanding of the events and circumstances surrounding the “exodus” from Egypt.
— Parashat Sh'mot