Shemot (5777)

Drash Cards for Shemot (5777)

by Marc Mangel

  • Last weekend, a friend of ours from graduate school – we met in April 1976 – received smicha. Just before the ordination ceremony began, we participated in the family and close friends session.
  • Among other things, we were told that putting the word Rabbi or Cantor in front a person’s name may or may not change that person but will change the way the world sees that person for sure.
  • That is, our name affects our destiny.
  • Today we start the book of names, with the parsha of names, so I decided to discuss names.
  • We begin with the names of the sons of Jacob who came down into Egypt with him.
  • When Moses meets God (Ch 3, v 13) what transpires is this: “Moses said to God: I am going to come to the Israelites and say to them ‘The God of your forefathers has sent me to you”; they will ask me “What is his name?””
  • Pharaoh’s daughter is not named in the Torah, but she is in Divrei HaYamin/Chronicles 1, Ch 4:18 as Bitya or Batya – daughter of God. R. Menachem Mendel of Kutzk teaches that HaShem rewarded Batya by allowing her to enter Gan Eden while she was still alive.
  • Batya is the one who names Moses. There are Midrashim suggesting that she had learned Hebrew, but Rabbi Zvi Ron, a modern orthodox commentator, says “from a simple reading of the text that Moshe was indeed an Egyptian name”. Thus, his name is Egyptian – meaning ‘I drew him out of the water’.
  • According to the JPS commentary, “Mose” is frequent in Egyptian personal names, usually with a divine element, such as Ahmose, Ptahmose, Ramoes, Thotmose. Two papyri from Ramses II mention an official named Mose

• Me’Am Loaz teaches that Moses had many names: Amram called him Chever, Yocheved called him Yekutiel, Miriam called him Yered, Aaron called him Avi Zanoach, his nurse called him Avi Socho, etc. But Moshe is the only name used for him in the Torah, the only name that God uses when referring to him

  • Think about this as we continue to read the book of Shemot: the individual whose name means to be drawn out will himself draw Israel out of Egypt, as Isaiah notes (63:11). His name was his destiny.


  • I offer Moshe — whose name was also the direction of his life — as an example to each of you – go home and think about what your name means about the direction of your life.