Rabbi David Katz
In this week’s Torah Portion of “Bamidbar” we receive one of the original sources to the well known principle, “שמא גרים” – “The Name Causes.” The root concept is that everybody has a name and at the same time every name has a meaning; the meaning carries with it the weight of the specific details of the anatomy of the soul along with the exact details of the Soul’s Spiritual Mission that it was sent to do. Just as everybody has a name, (even if you are called “Hey You!” – this would function as your name!) It would fall upon everyone a Divine Mission and purpose of being created. This concept is at the root of the Noahides roots going back to Shem and Noah, for Shem’s Name means: Name! (Ever, as in Shem and Ever would then mean “Hebrew Name”) The source of this concept in the Parsha, which is quoted by the Vilna Gaon in Kol Hator (The Gaon’s work on “Redemption” that outlines the nature of one’s Divine Mission based on one’s Name) is the verse in the Parsha: [Bamidbar 1:2] “Take a census of the entire Assembly of the Children of Israel according to their families, according to their fathers’ household, by “number” of the names…” It will be this “Number” that will serve as the basis of matters that equate into our concept (From Gemara and Zohar) “A Name Causes.”
One key concept to remember is that although the Simple Meaning of the text when stating, “Children of Israel” as the Jewish People that stood at Mt. Sinai, is that at the same time we can allegorically include the Noahides into this address to the people, for “Children of Israel” can figuratively refer to the Noahides and their required spiritual presence at Sinai. When we translate Children of Israel into a form of meaning, one could arrive to a meaning of, ”those of a Higher Spiritual Name”; this is akin to the nature of Jacob (who was pre-Sinai, and thus had a quasi Jewish/Noahide status [Ramban]) who was referred to Israel when in context of a higher Spiritual Calling. The Noahide effectively has the same scenario, that he can express his soul’s belief’s with the clarity of “Israel” – to “Jacob”, the same way that Jacob was involved with his spirituality and ultimately ascended higher with the Name Israel. Such would be any transcending name by a Noahide; for the Noahide has a direct portion of Sinai, particularly in a Spiritual domain, as his root in being commanded in the Seven Laws is conceived only through Sinai. Per force, the Noahide is rooted at Sinai (When he accepts the Seven Laws as was given at Sinai) and even more specifically in his Higher Spiritual Name. Along with this Name comes his “Number” as was spoken of in the Verse in Bamidbar. This number would hint at the “Hidden Wisdom” of one’s Name. Interestingly enough, Noah’s Name (which is comprised of a נ and ח refer to ח''כמת נ''יסתר: The Hidden Wisdom. It should come to no surprise that Noah fittingly named his Firstborn: “Shem” / Name!
One rule of thumb when learning about Names is that there are many ways to arrive to one’s “Spiritual Name.” We can look to Jacob, Ruth, Jethro, Noah, Shem, and Aravnah for examples of how names work, work as a Higher Spiritual Name, and into the concept of a “name causes.”
When we first look at Jacob, he gives us a clear example (that applies to Noahides and Jews alike) of how one has a Higher Spiritual Name. Most should be familiar with Jacob and his birth alongside Esau, upon which Jacob would earn the right of “Israel.” Yet we can contrast this type of Ascension with one such as Ruth. Ruth was named by non-Jews and even non-Noahides. Yet we still find that Ruth’s name was Divinely Inspired to that the point that her name even prophesied King David who would not only come from her but from this name as well! Here we have a great example of “A Name Causes” and this name required absolutely no change. An inspiration can come anywhere and anytime, and not necessarily needs to undergo change. Noah as well comes under this distinction, as he remained all the way through “Noah”; Noah according to the Commentators was at his greatest due to his Natural Name! Again, there was no change necessary. In a contrasting view, Jethro was originally named Jether, and upon returning to God he undertook the opportunity to add a letter to his name making him, “Jethro.” A simple observation is that in Jethro’s Torah Portion the Torah was given, which is a direct hint at the “Number” of his name, for Jethro/יתרו is 616 which is the same as “The Torah” התורה. And of course Shem is the expression of the raw power of a Name as he was simply called “Shem” / “Name.”
In the Torah Portion of Bamidbar we learn somewhat of the secrets in how names work. Many are familiar with the David’s of the World and the Noah’s of the World, along with most of our hero’s from the Tanach. Yet there are other Men and Women of valor that we are not aware of, who have names that we can see their power of soul through the expression of their name. Aravnah the Noahide is one example of a tremendous name that went on to great heights and expresses one of the highest missions there are for either Jews or Noahides, as he was the “Minister of Zion.” His Name “Aravnah” means, “Yearning for Light.” When we look at the meaning of Names, and even apply the Hidden Wisdom with applications of Hebrew and Number, the sublime Higher Spiritual stature emanates through to the point that the soul can fathomed and in detail of its mission, for the Name Causes and all names are inspired from Hashem directly to the Namer. Yet our Torah Portion this week is unique, with a vast array of Names.
This week we deviate from the David’s and the Moses’ and the Jethro’s…and we find Names that easily express their Wisdom. (It should be noted that often in the Torah people may be born with their inspired name, like Ruth, or may achieve the opportunity to relate to their Higher Spiritual Name at a later date, such as Esther who was also called, “Hadassah”, etc…) A few of the Names we encounter are: EliShamah which means: My God Hears, AmiShadai which means: My Nation under “Shakai” (a Name of God), Shlumiel which means: the completeness of God, etc. These names are textbook clear, how a name can be ripe in its Wisdom to express meaning, cater to its Gematria, and reveal the inner dimensions of one’s soul and mission. These Names in Bamidbar, which happen to be found in the Parsha that is the source of Names having meaning, i.e. A Name Causes, encapsulate the perfect scenarios when learning about names, which is based on the premise that every name has these qualities. The only reason one would choose an “Israel” type of name, would be to elevate the apparent Purity of the Name, as was done with Jacob who became Israel. One point to always remember is that this is not always the case, as we see from Ruth and Noah, two people who lived righteous lives and changed the World, from the names that they were blessed with from birth. The distinguishing factor to always remember is that names are inspired by God, and this is a depiction of Merit; Merit is one Wisdom that Hashem Himself has exclusive rights over. Our job is to work with what we were given, and know the extent of which we are Blessed within our Free Will to maneuver about.
In closing, the Noahides are deeply rooted in Names, as was revealed through such luminaries as Ruth, Noah, Jacob, Jethro, etc. The task is to grasp onto the Higher Elements and to relate to “The Children of Israel.” If this is the allegorical, meaning those of Higher Spiritual Names, then one must cling to this Wisdom. It is clear at this point that everyone has a name, some born with more clarity in their name, and some with less. The key ingredient to latching onto one’s Higher Spirituality (particularly if his birth name is what he feels is his calling!) is to relate to the secrets of Noah-Shem-and-Ever: The Hidden Wisdom of One’s Hebrew Name! (This being the connotation of all three names) The Torah Portion of Bamidbar gives over to us these secrets, with plenty examples of richness in names, with Wisdom that is perceivable to the naked eye. But even beyond the sensory, is the plane of existence in the name that relates directly to the Soul. And this is why the Torah says: take a census…according to number, i.e. relate to the people the nature of the soul and its Gematria that befits its Mission. This Wisdom is none other than a reiterating pattern that stems from the root of Salvation, a trait that dates to Noah himself, for with his Hidden Wisdom and Power of his Name, Noah gave over these secrets as can be seen in his firstborn who was simply called, “Shem” – Name. Shem would go on to stand for everything he inherited from Noah, and along with his grandson Ever who also had greatness in his name, particularly when coupled with Shem, the two of them would teach and give over Torah, in a manner that for all of time, Torah and Names would be synonymous, much the way we can relate to the Parsha: Bamidbar.
Shabbat Shalom Shavuous Sameach!!!!