This Shabbat we finish reading the second book of the Torah. It is interesting to note that there is a discrepancy of how this book is called in the English versus the Hebrew. In the English translations of the Torah it is called the book of Exodus, because the first few portions of this book discusses the Exodus from Egypt. However, in the Hebrew texts it is called the book of Shemot because the book begins with the word of Shemot.
The word Shemot means “Names” and indeed the theme of this book is that the Jewish people turned into a nation with a distinct mission, thus receiving the name and identity of being Jews. The book discusses three themes: the exodus of Egypt which is the birth of the Jewish nation, the receiving of the Torah which spells out the mission of the Jewish people and finally the building the Tabernacle, which is the ultimate purpose of the Jewish mission to elevate our world to become worthy of G-d’s revealed presence.
There is yet another lesson from this book of the Torah being called “Names”: Jewish mysticism teaches that a person’s Jewish name is connected to his essence. We can therefore find that a person focuses totally when he is called by his name. This teaches us that our identity as Jews is something that is connected to our true essence.