Israel Forever

For the week ending 13 January 2007 / 23 Tevet 5767

What's In A Name

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
"The U.S. first destroyed our great country, the Soviet Union, then they destroyed our economy, and now they are sending us this horrible young woman to destroy our souls."

This is what was said by one of the protesters against a Madonna concert held in Moscow last September. She was one of about a hundred demonstrators organized by the Orthodox Standard Bearers Union, a group combining religion and nationalism.

Despite this protest the two concerts of the pop artist were sold out, an indication that the West has conquered Russian culturally.

When we read in this week's Torah portion of the beginning of the exile of our ancestors in Egypt, we are struck with wonder that they did not succumb to Egyptian culture despite being in the corrupt society for more than two centuries.

The answer lies in the name of this portion and the entire Chumash that it headlines. "Shmot" means “names”. Our Sages tell us that one of the merits our ancestors had for redemption was that they did not change their Hebrew names.

This should serve as a reminder to Jews in Israel and elsewhere to retain their Hebrew names as a safeguard against succumbing to the culture of Madonna and a guarantee for Israel forever.

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