Pearls of Rashi – Shemos

This week we read the Torah portion of Shemos. It begins by counting and naming the children of Ya’akov. The Parshah begins (Shemos 1:1) “These are the names of the sons of Yisroel who came to Egypt with Ya’akov. Each man came together with his household.” Rashi comments on this, “Although He (Hashem) counted them in their lifetime by their names (See Bereishis 46:8-27), He counted them again after their death. This was in order to let us know how precious they are. They were compared  to the stars, which He takes out and brings in by number and by name, as it is said: (Yeshayahu 40:26) ‘who takes out their host by number; all of them He calls by name.’”

We need to understand what is so special about being counted by name. What is about a census, counting the Jews, that expresses our greatness? Likewise we need to understand the same thing about naming all of them.

A census expresses how each individual is identical. Whether or not one appears greater than the other, each person is counted as one; no more and no less. In contrast to this, calling people by name expresses the exact opposite.. Each individual is, well, individual. Every single person is unique.

We find both aspects within the Jewish people. Each and every one of us shares a common factor. We all have a G-dly soul, the essence of which is completely bound with Him. In that respect we are all equal. However, at the same time each of us has a mission which he was sent down to this world to fulfill. We all share the common mission of studying Torah and fulfilling Mitzvos. However, each of us also has a particular mission. Hashem creates each of us with different strengths, which are suited enable us to carry out our mission. Only I can do that for which G-d created me. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said, that one’s birthday is the time that Hashem decided that the world cannot exist without him.

That is the reason that Hashem counted us once again by name. As Rashi quoted, we are “compared to the stars, which He takes out and brings in (both) by number and by name.

We must all keep in mind that G-d chose each of us to carry out a specific task. Not only that, but he gives each of us the ability to fulfill it. With His help, let us all get to work and bring Moshiach now!

Wishing you a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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