Torah Portion: Sh’mot (Names) Exodus 1:1-6:1
Haftorah Reading: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3
Tonight we begin the second book of the Torah – Sh’mot (Exodus). It begins by listing the seventy people of Jacob’s family who came to Egypt from Israel and begins with introducing the hardships of the people under the rule of Pharaoh. In this section we read of the naming of Moshe and also the introduction of the Holy Name of G-d. I would like to cover several important topics tonight that I believe have a direct impact on our spiritual life.
One of these topics was in my last question to you. I asked what is the difference between faith and trust in G-d – if any? Faith means at its foundation what? “I believe in G-d and I believe He can do as He wants.” In some sense, faith and trust are interchangeable. However trust is deeper than faith. Sometimes we have faith in G-d yet find it difficult to trust Him. Jacob had his dream of the ladder in Genesis 28:13-15 where G-d promised him He would be with him and bring him back to the Land. Yet, in Genesis 32:11 in his prayer he tells G-d he is afraid of his meeting with Esau his brother. Moshe has a similar experience later in his life as he and the people confront Og. G-d tells him directly, do not fear. Even after all G-d had done Moshe still feared. Numbers 21:33-35. So both of these men needed to be reassured to not be afraid but to trust in the L-rd. The point being, trust is being able to totally surrender to the Father and whatever He does in our life, holding on to nothing but Him. We allow Him complete control in everything and we trust Him to bring good in our life. Challenges may come into our life to bring us to repentance, or into a deeper walk with Him. Whatever it is, it is good. When we are in that place of complete trust we can rest in the Father and have peace in our life. Coming to this place allows us the ability to say to G-d, “You are the only reality, everything else pales before You.” This is complete surrender of self and ego to Him.
This level of trust is a challenge to all of us as we face life. We can’t reach this level of trust in someone if we do not know them in a deep intimate way. The only way to achieve this is to spend time with the Father getting to know who He is and how much He loves us and wants our best.; It is very important to be able to come to this place in each of our lives.
Now on to another point from our reading for the week that bears on this issue of trust. In Sh’mot 5:6-9 we read of Pharaoh’s response to Moshe’s demand that he let the people go for three days to worship G-d. Pharaoh’s response was to make their life more difficult more demanding. Now, not only do they have to continue to meet the goal of making bricks but they also must gather their own straw to mix in with the clay to make the bricks. What do you think his reason was for doing this? I’m sure one reason was so they would be so tired they would not have the energy to do anything else. They would not be able to even think of freedom. What does this say to each of us in our own lives? As a culture with Facebook, cell phones, email, twitter, challenges at work and with family we allow ourselves to become so busy that we literally never have the time or peace of mind to stop for a moment and just think about our lives and our relationship with G-d. We don’t have the time to just think. This leaves us ill equipped to come to a place of trust in G-d, to know Him to the depth we have just talked about.
Do we ever have the time or energy to review our day? Do we question, what might I have done today that needs correcting, an apology, or repentance? Have I grown in my relationship with G-d today, with my friends or family? Without time for this sort of self examination we fail to grow spiritually. The demands of the world require we take an active role in safe guarding our time and to be certain we have time each day with the Father.
Lastly, I would like to hear your thoughts on the name, “Moshe.” It is odd that one of the most revered men in the Bible carried on Egyptian name. How did this happen? To understand let us look at his life. On his first day out and about he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. What did he do? He intervened and killed the Egyptian. Next day, he went out again and saw two Hebrews fighting. He intervened again and tried to calm the situation. He felt threatened by what the Hebrew said to him, fled the country and went to Midian. In Midian he came to a well where the daughters of Yethro were waiting to water their father’s sheep. The other shepherds were giving them a hard time so Moshe intervened once again, drove the others away and helped the daughters water the sheep. What do we see here? It is a pattern of taking the side of the weaker one, the one suffering.
Without these stories the narrative would still be complete. All we really need to know is the Pharaoh sought to kill Moshe and Moshe fled to Midian and found a wife. So why does scripture include these stories? I believe it is to show us the quality of the man Moses was and to explain G-d’s calling on his life. It all began with Pharaoh’s daughter showing his kindness and compassion when she drew him out of the water, going against Pharaoh’s wishes. She did not hesitate to become involved. He possible learned this trait from Pharaoh’s daughter. How important our interactions with others are, especially those who know and learn from us. We must always be the example that G-d desires from us for it has far more effect than we might realize. So his name fits like a glove.
In Hebrew names are important. We see it here and also in the verse where G-d tells Moshe who He is and what to share with the people, “I will be what I will be.” I am being, I am reality, I am in the groan of a beaten slave, a bereaved mother, in everything. I cry with you, I suffer with you. You can’t see Me because I am so real – beyond our ability to understand but we are called to trust Him. He will be, He was, He is!