Rabbi’s Corner:These Are the Names – V’Eileh Sh’mot


On this first Shabbat of 2024 we begin reading the first chapter of the book of Exodus, the book of Sh’mot. The word “sh’mot” literally means “names” as the first portion, our parasha for this week, begins “V’eileh sh’mot b’nei Yisrael ha’ba’im Mitzraimah et Ya’akov..These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob..” The text then lists the names of all those who left Israel and came down to Egypt, 70 members of Jacob’s family altogether. We tend to think of January as a time of new beginnings, a chance for a fresh start. Jacob and his family went down to Egypt due to a famine in Israel. It was an opportunity for them to obtain food, to survive and thrive. However, the beginning of Sh’mot starts a new chapter for the Israelites in Egypt: it is now many years since Jacob and his family made their initial foray down to Egypt. The 70 souls multiplied and have now become a great and mighty people. Sh’mot tells us that a “new Pharaoh arose who did not know Joseph.” Pharaoh feared these foreigners in his midst, he tyrannized them and tried to destroy them. Thus begins our people’s descent into slavery and oppression, and our subsequent story of liberation and freedom.

On this first Shabbat of 2024 we too are still listing and recounting names of those who were taken hostage from Israel by Hamas into Gaza and are still being held. We are counting the names of those who have been murdered. We are counting the names of the IDF soldiers who died protecting our precious Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. The media outlets neglect that it was Hamas who initiated the brutality that initiated this terrible war, that it was Hamas who not only takes Israelis and Jews as their innocent victims, but takes Palestinians, Thai, Bedouin, Druze, as well as holding their own people in Gaza “hostage” in their despicable actions. Today marks 90 days since that horrific day of October 7. There are so many names to list and count and remember. As our Torah portion begins, “V’eileh sh’mot – and these are the names…”

Click here for a list of those who were KIDNAPPED from Israel on October 7th

Click here for updated lists of “Swords of Iron” IDF Casualties from October 7th – Present

Click here for updated lists of Israeli “Swords of Iron” Civilian Casualties from October 7th – Present

Like the Israelites in the Torah portion, redemption has yet to come. However, as Jews, we do not give up hope. Even in our darkest times, we join together in solidarity, fortitude, action, and perseverance. We pray, hope, and work toward that new day to dawn soon when peace, security, life and blessing will reign over all humankind.


“I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love,
even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God,
even when He is silent.
I believe through any trial,
there is always a way
But sometimes in this suffering
and hopeless despair
My heart cries for shelter,
to know someone’s there
But a voice rises within me, saying hold on
my child, I’ll give you strength,
I’ll give you hope. Just stay a little while.
I believe in the sun
even when it is not shining
And I believe in love
even when there’s no one there
But I believe in God
even when he is silent
I believe through any trial
there is always a way.
May there someday be sunshine
May there someday be happiness
May there someday be love
May there someday be peace….”
― Author Unknown (written during WWII, on the wall of a cellar, by a Jew in the Cologne concentration camp)


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