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		                                    Word Of Torah		                                </span>

Word of Torah

 

Written by: Rabbi Emily Segal

Parashat Lech L'cha

Dear Friends,
Reading through this week’s Torah portion, Lech L’cha, I was struck by the importance of names.  At the beginning of our Torah portion, God calls to Avram, telling him to go forth with his wife Sarai from everything they know into a land that they do not know.  After heeding God’s call, leaving everything they know and setting out, later in the Torah portion God changes their names from Avram and Sarai to Avraham and Sarah.  Both of their names are given the extra letter “hey,” one of the four letters of God’s name. The midrash, in Mekhilta Yitro, comments that the letter hey, representing God, is added to each of their names as a reward for their pious behavior.  To do good deeds is to link our name with the name of God.
The change of Avram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah indicates a transformation—this radical life change of following God, going forth, away from everything they knew.  From Abraham and Sarah’s change of name, we are reminded of the fact that names are linked inextricably to identity. 
At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, God calls to Abraham and promises him blessing: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you.  I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you, and all the families of earth shall bless themselves by you.” (Gen 12:2-3).  “I will make your name great.”  “All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.” 
Our names, the names used to describe us, the names we use to describe others, have meaning.  They are related directly and inextricably to identity, self-esteem, and self-respect.  We relate to God differently and use different names to describe God at different moments in our lives, just as our forefathers and foremothers did.  Our reputation is carried in our name, and we hope that this reputation is one of righteous behavior and kindness.  Let us be sure that our words, the names we use for ourselves and others, lead not to disrespect but to respect, not to breaking people down but rather to building people up. 
If we lead by example and use our words only to create hope and positivity then, perhaps, will the families of the earth bless themselves by us, for we will have become a blessing to those around us.  Ken Yehi Ratzon, be this God’s will.

Shabbat Shalom, 
Rabbi Emily E. Segal

 

 

 
Tue, October 19 2021 13 Cheshvan 5782