This Parsha this week is Parshas Vayikroh. The Parsha begins with the famous words. "Vayikra el Moshe - And He (Hashem) called to Moses." The Medrash tells us that Moses in fact had ten different names. Among them was Yered, Avigdor, Avisocho, Chever,...
The name Yered was given to Moses because he brought the Torah down to the Jewish people. Chever (which means connected) was because Moses connected the Jews to their Father in heaven…
A name, in Jewish thought, is a word that defines the item or person being described.
If Moses had ten names, which one would we have picked for him to be referred to for eternity? Which one would we think best describes his make-up and being? Would it be Yered for having brought down the Torah? Chever for connecting us to Hashem for eternity?
In fact, as we all know, none of these other names was chosen.
The Medrash tells us "Hashem said to Moses, I swear to you, from all the names that you received I will only call you the name that Batya the daughter of Pharaoh called you." This, of course, was the name Moshe which relates to his being drawn by her from the Nile River. However, this does require an explanation: some of the other names that Moses had would at first glance seem to indicate greater spiritual heights than the name Moshe? The fact that he brought down the Torah, that he Created the eternal bond between Hashem and the Jewish people, are these not accomplishments that deserve to be
In truth the whole name Moshe would seem to be out of place for us to use for Moses: after all, this name was given to him by Batya to commemorate something she had done - that she had drawn him from the water. Why would we use a name for Moses that describes an act that was done by Batya?
Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, the late Dean of the Mirrer Yeshiva, explained this in a most beautiful way. Throughout his life Moses showed over and over his 'mesiras nefesh' - his giving of self for the Jewish people. Where did he get this inner strength to give so much of himself for the Jewish people?
The source, Rav Shmulevitz explains, is in that first act of selfless 'mesiras nefesh' (giving of self) that Batya did to rescue Moses. When Batya went ahead and stretched out her arm to rescue Moses from the Nile River, she did so at great peril to herself. Her defiance of her father’s decree could easily have cost her, her life. Yet, she risked all she had to save this Jewish child. This in a spiritual sense gave great strength to Moses, and helped him to live a life full of selfless dedication for the Jewish people.
As we approach Passover and celebrate our freedom, these special figures of our history will hopefully encourage us to live our lives with dedication and care for the entire Jewish people.