Parashat Shemot – Names and Geulah

This week’s Parsha is Shemot. Shemot means “names”; since the portion starts with:

these are the names of the sons of Israel
(Ex 1:1)

Although Israel had fallen into Exile and slavery, The book starts enumerating the names of the children of Israel, to remind us that God didn’t abandon them [even though it seemed that way].
1468646_10151901223804069_843252341_nThis is a great moment to learn about names. Our masters teach that the Name one gives to his child or to himself determines many things in the spiritual realm. Thus the need to change the name when a new episode of our Life begins.

Names, just as any word are created by combining letters, and when the Hebrew letters are used to write those names, we are using the blocks of creation.

That’s the main topic in the Sefer Yetzirah, which states that God created the world with 32 paths of Wisdom (represented in the 32 times the word Elokim appears in the 1st chapter of Genesis): the 10 Sefirot (represented in the 10 sayings; cf. Avot 5:1) and the 22 foundation letters of the Hebrew Alphabet (the other 22 times the word: “Elokim” appears) (cf. Yetzirah 1:1-2; cf. Pardes Rimonim 12:1). In Hebrew 32 represents the word: Lev (heart – לב) [the first letter in the Torah is the Beit and the last letter is the Lamed, thus forming the word Lev, or the number 32].

In order to understand this, a very simplistic explanation would be that in order to Say: “Let there be Light” – ‘Yehi Ohr’, first of all it was necessary to combine the letters that form those words, then create those words, and then pronounce them. This is why the Hebrew language is called Lashon haKodesh – the Holy Tongue. Our sages teach that Hebrew is the language of the Upper worlds; this is the secret in the proverb: “Ministering angels [of the people of God] only speak Hebrew” (Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 24; cf. Hagiga 16a & Sotah 33a).

How we use the Hebrew letters constructs our world and our reality. God saw necessary to change the name of Abram into ‘Abraham’, even though the difference was just one letter.

אברם – אברהם

In the same manner, Moses changed Hosea‘s name into ‘Yehoshua’ (Nm 13:16), and again, the difference was just one letter.

  הושע – יהושע

The extra letters in these two cases are letters that belong to the Sacred Name [Yod – Hei – Vav – Hei]. In Abraham’s case, God added the letter Hei. In Hoshea’s case, Moses added the Yod.

In other cases, the father gives a name to his child, so that his name will determine his destiny as it was the case of Noah (cf. Berakhot 7b).

“And called his name Noah ( נח – rest, quietness, comfort), saying, he will comfort us (or give us rest) – yeNakhemenu – ינחמנו  ”(Gn 5:29).

But then the Holy One favours a different etymology for that name, as it’s written:

“’Noah’ is found ‘Hen’ (grace, charm) in the eyes of HaShem”
Genesis 6:8; cf. Zohar I:58b

In the secret of symmetry (already explained in Parashat Noah).

נח – חן

In today’s Parsha, we find another case.

The case of a child that is called after an Egyptian (gentile, non-Hebrew) name, but when translated into Hebrew, it also has a meaning that has to do with him.

“And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moshe, and said: ‘Because I drew him out of the water”
Exodus 2:10

If you keep in mind that contextually we are talking of an Egyptian princess who finds a Hebrew baby, in a time when the Hebrews were slaves being executed, we can clearly infer that Moshe was seen as an Egyptian name. Giving him an Egyptian name would protect him from all the troubles a Hebrew boy raised in the house of Pharaoh could have. In Egyptian, ‘Moshe’ means “Child” or “Son”, Following the Phrase: “And he became her son”.

In Kabbalah, this is the secret of how our teacher Moses plays the role of mediator or bridge between God (the Father – Abbah, Keter, Hokhma & Binah) and the people (Nukva– Malkhut). So later we read: “You speak with us and we will hear, but don’t let God speak to us, lest we die” (Ex 20:16 [19]).  And as Moses represents the heart of the Ladder path, namely Zeir Anpin (the little face, the Son, Hesed to Yesod) we see him taking the role of Messianic figure (specifically in the Sefirah of Tiferet). We see him ascending to the Mount of fire and darkness to bring down the Torah. As we read: “HaShem called Moses to the top of the Mountain, and Moses went up” (Ex 19:20), and then: “You have seen that I talk to you from Heaven” (Ex 20:19 [22]). As we said in previous Parashot, “Sinai” in Gematria equals the word “Ladder” – Sulam.


סלם = סיני = 130


Thus our sages tell of Moses something that belongs to the role of “Son” (ie. Zeir Anpin): “Moshe went up to Heaven to receive the Torah and brought it down to the people”. Moses is the heart of the Ladder between Yakov (ie. Israel) and God, as seen in Yakov’s dream (ie. Moshe = Tiferet with a deep connection in Yesod). Moses is the first redeemer, Messiah – ie. the Prophet like Moses – is the last redeemer.

In our portion we find already Moses in the role of mediator. After the first meeting with Pharaoh, the children of Israel instead of deliverance falls in a greater slavery. Moses enters in intercession with God, and speaks in the name of Israel, saying: “Why do you afflict this people? Why did you send me?… you haven’t delivered your people at all!” (Ex 5:23). This is not a prayer against God, here Moses is not rebelling against God, rather he is interceding for Israel, trying to bring Kindness to his people.

However, the etymology that the Torah favours for “Moshe” is the one based on its Hebrew meaning, as it’s written: “Because out of the water I drew him out (Meshitihu)”. Pharaoh’s daughter made a pun on Moshe’s name, ‘knowing that the boy was Hebrew’ (Ex 2:6).

The word “Moshe” – משה means: “drawing out”, a metaphor for “rescue”.

It’s Moshe who ‘rescues’ or draws the people of Israel out of Egypt. It’s a task clearly connected with the etymology of his name. Basically, when we say: ‘Moshe’ we are calling him a “rescuer”.

By calling him with an Egyptian name, but favouring the Hebrew meaning over the Egyptian, the daughter of Pharaoh connected Moshe spiritually to his people. So the next thing we read is that ‘when Moshe was grown up, he went to his brethren’ (Ex 2:11).  Not only that, but even though his physical mother named him with other name, “it was because of this kindness that the name by which Moses is known throughout the Bible is the one that Batiah, Pharaoh’s daughter, called him, and even God called him by no other name” (cf. Shemot Rabbah).

The Crying Child

601637_10151901249899069_1984956839_nMoshe’s soul, as a bridge between God and the people of Israel, has the duty to represent the whole nation in front of God (cf. Mekhilta Yitro 1:1) as it’s written: “Be you [Moses] for people before God” (Ex 18:19).

So we read in the beginning of the story that the King commanded to slay every “son” casting them into the river.  As the story goes, we read the “daughter of Pharaoh descended to bathe in the river” (Ex 2:5).  This is, the same river where all the male children were being killed. In a Midrashic interpretation, she was bathing in the blood of the righteous of Israel. Nothing happens by chance, so this is a glimpse of the ‘exile’ and ‘redemption’.

Of this the Prophet says:

“Because of the sins of her prophets and the iniquities of her priests, I have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her”
(Lam 4:13)

This teaches us that the daughter of Pharaoh represents the attribute of Justice (cf. Zohar, Shemot)  against a nation that got used to be in Egypt and forgot their God. But then we read

“And she opened, and saw a child and behold, the boy was crying, and she had compassion on him”
(Ex 2:6)

This boy is Moses, who represents Israel, who in the middle of the judgment was saved because of tears. This teaches us the meaning of Repentance. One who sheds tears during prayer receives compassion. “This is one of the Hebrews”, meaning, this one is not like those pagan idolaters, meaning, when repentance comes not only with tears, but also with deeds, the “difficult decrees are removed from him” (cf. Zohar shemot).

And the maid went and called the child’s mother
(Ex 2:8).

Because the child was weeping, the child’s mother was summoned. This is in reference to Rachel, who cryies together with her child, for it’s said: “A voice in the height is heard, lamentation of bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children” (Jer 31:15).

The Redemption of Israel depends on Israel’s ability to repent with lament, as it’s written: “They will come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them” (Jer 31:9).

So we later read:

“They cried out because of their slavery, and their plea went up before God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Yitshak and Yakov.”

We know that everything is under Divine Providence, but Redemption will not come if we do nothing. The coming of Messiah doesn’t happen by simply waiting to see how the world ends and saying, one day Messiah will come. The Gemara cites an opinion that “All the appointed times for Messiah to come ‘in its time’ have already passed and everything depends now on repentance” (Sanh 97b). Redemption comes when we start to realize what we are. We all are children of God exiled in this world of oppression (the meaning of Egypt – Mitzraim is oppression). If we don’t cry out and start doing our part in the redemption, we all are gonna die exiled. This is hinted in the words: “He looked this way and that way, and he saw no man [who helped his brother]” (Ex 2:12).

Notice how the king of Egypt decrees the death of the Boys, but of the girls he decrees to make them live. They are an aspect of Messiah ben Yosef’s soul who is killed bearing the sins of his people and takes upon himself the chastisement of Israel (cf. Zohar II:212a ; cf. Sanh 98b). The death of the righteous affords atonement (cf. Moed Katan 28a).

But if Israel is worthy, Messiah comes with the clouds (cf. Sanh 98b). This is, when the nation turned to Heaven with tears, as it’s written: ‘The cry of the children of Israel is come to me’ (Ex 3:9).

This is our time to cry out: We want Mashiakh now!

Moses’ Snake

One of the signs by which God convinces Moses, and by which He introduces Himself to Pharaoh is the transformation of Moses’ staff into a Snake.

 “And he [Moses] threw it [the staff] to the ground and it became a snake [Nakhash].Moshe ran away from it. God told Moses, ‘Reach out and grab it by its tail’. He reached out and grabbed it, and it became a staff in his hand” (Ex 4:3-4).

The Staff by which Aaron and Moses made miracles was a ‘Snake’. Not an evil Snake, but a “Holy Snake”. The Dominion of Pharaoh comes from the side of The Wicked Snake, as it’s written: “I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, great dragon that lies in the midst of his rivers” (Ez 29:3); therefore his judgment started with a Snake (cf. Zohar Vaera).


The Symbol of the Snake is very important. It was through the poison (spiritual impurity) of a Wicked Snake that Samael brought “Death to humankind” (cf. Zohar I:35b). Therefore, since a Snake exiled us from Gan Eden, the redemption of humanity would come through another ‘Snake’; God’s judgments are measure for measure (eye for an eye); and this ‘Holy Snake’ is Messiah (see details in Parashat Toldot).


In Gematria ‘Messiah’ (Mashiakh) equals Snake (Nakhash).


משיח = נחש = 358


God commands Moses to take the “Snake” by the “Tail” – that is: the hindmost part – because the Moshe-Messiah is the final redeemer. And it became a staff, because the staff represents the attribute of Justice and severity, it’s the way the cattle is put in order. So we find that God is telling Moses that Pharaoh’s judgment and the people’s deliverance is through an aspect of the Soul of Messiah. As it’s written: ‘he [Messiah] will smite the land with the rod of his mouth and… slay the Wicked’ (Is 11:4). Who is the Wicked one? Samael (cf. Bahir 200), the Wicked Snake.


So from one side of the staff comes deliverance (mercy, life) and from the other side judgment (severity, death). In our portion we see how this staff is good when is a rod, but dangerous when is in the form of a Snake – as Moses fled from it (Ex 4:3).

In Kabbalah, this balance between the left and the right side is the balance found in “Tiferet”; the Parzuf (personification of the Sefirot) called: ‘Zeir Anpin’. In the angelic world this belongs to “Metatron” – the so called: ‘Angel of HaShem’, as it’s written: ‘the staff of God is in my hand’ (Ex 17:9) (cf. Zohar I:27a). Metatron is the Mediator of all that comes from heaven down to the earth, or from the earth up to heaven (Zohar II:51). This is another aspect of Messiah ben Yosef, as explained in three teachings of the Vilna Gaon:


● Yosef as well as the angel Metatron (cf. Hagiga 14) are spiritually rooted in the level of Adam’s collective soul, called: ‘the Uppermost Light’ (זהירא עילאה). So Messiah ben Yosef also receives his spiritual energy and vitality from this level and utilizes it in fulfilment of his mission. This connection is also hinted at by the Gematria of ‘Metatron minister of the Presence’ = 999; the equivalent of the 999 rectifications that are part of the spiritual mission of Messiah ben Yosef (cf. Kol haTor 2:43).


מטטרון שר הפנים = 999


● In fact, it’s written: “’A bird of the skies will carry the sound and a winged creature will tell the matter’ (Eccl 10:20), this verse refers to Metatron, as mentioned in Tikkunei Zohar, he is the angel of Messiah ben Yosef [ie. his oversoul in the Sefirotic worlds], for “bird” in Hebrew: Ophעוף – alludes to Yosef, and in Genatria the two words are equal” (Kol haTor 2:112).


עוף = יוסף = 156


● The term ‘Naar’ (Youth, Lad) generally alludes to the attributes of Messiah ben Yosef. This is seen in Yosef (from whom Messiah ben Yosef stems) who was called Naar (Gn 37:2). Also Yehoshua son of Nun – the one who manifested Messiah ben Yosef’s mission in his generation was called a Naar. The Deeper meaning behind this is that in Kabbalah, the term: ‘Naar’ refers to the Sefirah of Yesod (the root of Messiah ben Yosef); which is Tiferet’s gate (this is – Metatron) – and thus ‘Naar’ is the way we refer to Enoch – who ascended to the level of Metatron (cf. Kol haTor 2:94; cf Sefer Heikhalot 3:2; 4:2).


So we can trace a clear connection between Moses’ staff, Metatron and Messiah.


Moses & Messiah’s Donkey


And Moses said to God: “Who am I, that I might go to Pharaoh, and that I might take the children of Israel out of Egypt? . . . Please, my Lord, send by the hand of he whom you will send” (Ex 3:11, 4:13).

“Send by the hand of he whom you will send— means by the hand of Messiah, who is destined to be revealed” (Midrash Lekach Tov).

And Moses took his wife and children, set them upon the donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt” (Ex 4:20).

Interestingly it doesn’t say: ‘set them upon a donkey’, but: ‘set them upon The Donkey’. Moshe went to deliver his people, on ‘The Donkey’.

Why the text sees necessary to emphasise the importance of the donkey? This is a Remez (allusion) to something else (cf. Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer 31)

This is the same Donkey of Abraham, when he received the mission to offer his son in sacrifice, as it’s written: “Abraham rose early in the morning and readied his Donkey” (Gn 22:3).

Seven generations later, when Moses receives the mission to rescue Israel, it’s this Donkey who carry his wife and children.

In the time of Messiah, Messiah himself will ride this donkey, as stated: ‘Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant, victorious, humble, and riding upon a Donkey’ (Zech 9:9).

Since Messiah is described as “greater than Abraham and higher than Moses – and even loftier than the supernal angels” (Yalkut Shimoni on Is 52:13).

Messiah is called “Aniy” – עני, normally translated as “Humble”. It also means: “poor”.

Messiah is called “poor” because he has nothing of his own, he is compared to the holy moon above, which has no light of her own, but is a reflection of the Sun’s light. So Messiah is called “poor” because his Light is a reflection of God’s Light above (cf. Zohar I:238a).

The term Aniy – poor, refers an aspect of Messiah ben Yosef, who by being “poor” is considered a “dead person”, for a poor man is accounted as dead (cf. Nedarim 64b; cf. Rashi on Ex 4:19), thus satisfying the attribute of Justice, for the job of redemption demands his very life (cf. Kol haTor 2:114).

The Donkey symbolizes the presence of the Soul of Messiah, the Messianic process of Redemption, the force that fixes the world. The Donkey of Messiah was created before the Sun (Yalkut Devarim 86a). As stated in another Parasha, the Hebrew name for the Donkey – Hamor is derived from the word that means ‘matter’; this is: ‘Homer’. Both words have the same letters and the same value in Gematria. The Donkey of Messiah represents the Spiritual controlling the material world.

Messiah is to come in a generation controlled by Humriut – ie. materialism, conformed with their material life, and take control over it. Just like Israel, who, although exiled in Egypt, became accustomed to it, and fell in the trap of forgetting spirituality, and then God had to subjugate the ten forces of Egypt.

In the same manner, Hamor represents our physical being, which must be controlled by the force of the Soul of Messiah (cf. Baal Shem Tov, haYom Yom, Shvat 28).   As the Baal Shem Tov taught, in each and every one there’s a spark of Messiah’s Soul. It is fundamental to rise the Messiah on top of materiality (= the donkey) and take control over it. The force from above (Messiah) influences the many shades of our matter (Homer) until finally our donkey is whitened – material world is purified – thus Messiah’s Donkey is popularly known as the “White Donkey”. It is our job to whiten the Donkey and redirect the influence of the material world into the Divine service (Thus Batiah said: “This is one of the Hebrews”; meaning, he doesn’t have anything to do with this pagan land).  In fact the very meaning of Hebrew – Ivry – עברי , means to belong ‘beyond here’, Ivry means to be in ‘transition’ from where you are now, to somewhere else.

Therefore, our father Abraham, also called a Hebrew, said: I am a stranger and a sojourner with you (Gn 23:4).


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of 13 Petals.
Each author involved with 13 Petals is independent in their expressed viewpoints. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *