Throughout the generations: women are heroines

“It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.”

Phil Chernofsky,

Woman trains on Tavor
Woman trains on Tavor
Flash 90

For the Book of Sh'mot and the sedra of Sh'mot, this Lead Tidbit will follow the lead of the Book and Sedra names. The title was originally going to be "What's in a name?" Shakespeare. Not thrilling and not really what will be said. Couldn't think of a better title so Google was consulted for Names quotes. This title also doesn't really match, but I liked it and W.C. Fields said it.

Let's take a look at 10 remarkable p'sukim. Sh'mot 2:1-10.

A man from the House of Levi (Amram) went and took (as a wife) the daughter of Levi (Yocheved). The woman (Yocheved) became pregnant and gave birth to a son (as yet unnamed)... She couldn't hide him any longer, and she put the YELED (you know who) into a basket... She (Yocheved) placed his sister (Miriam) at a distance... Par'o's daughter (only in Divrei HaYamim is she named - Bitya) ... She opened the basket and say the YELED, and the NAAR was crying (no name yet) ... the baby's sister (Miriam) said to Par'o's daughter, let me get a Jewish wet nurse (Yocheved)... so the ALMA (Miriam) went and called the baby's mother (Yocheved)... and the woman took the child... brought him back to Par'o's daughter when he was weaned... and she (Par'o's daughter) called him (drum roll) MOSHE, for from the water he was drawn.

Amram, Yocheved, Miriam, Par'o's daughter, are referred to, are discribed variously - but they are not named. Only at the end of this sequence of p'sukim are we introduced by name to the Moshe Rabeinu - whose name will be used 766 more times throughout Tanach.

Amram, Yocheved, Miriam, and bat Par'o are all important in the story of Egyptian slavery, but it seems that the Torah reseved its focus on MOSHE; the others are not named - only their roles are described.
Remember back to Parshat Chayei Sara, the famous riddle teachers always ask their students - who is the main character of the sedra and how many times does his name occur. The answer is Eliezer. And the second answer is none. Eliezer's name was not the point in that sedra - his roll was what is important. He is called HaEVED, the servant, 9 times and HaIsh, the Man, 9 times. Those were his two identities.

On the other hand, Yalkut Shimoni records ten names for Moshe. YERED (maybe because he brought down the Torah and the Sh'china to the People). AVIGDOR (related to his fencing in Par'o who no longer killed Jewish infants). CHEVER (because Moshe connected the People with G-d or because Amram and Yocheved reconnected). AVI SOCHO (related to his later role as the greatest of the Nevi'im). YEKUTIEL, AVI ZANO'ACH, TOVIYA, SH'MAYA, BEN EVYATAR, LEVI. The only name that stuck is MOSHE, to Bitya's credit.




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