This week we begin a new book of Torah — Shemot in Hebrew and Exodus in English. While the word “exodus” means “going out,” the word “shemot” means “names.” So, it should not be surprising that we are sent through a maze of names and journeys in this week’s parasha.
It’s a new year and we are beginning a new book of the Torah — Exodus. Unfortunately, we are dealing with the same old problem. Anti-Semitism, the oldest hatred, rears its ugly head.
The first Torah portion in Exodus is Shemot, Hebrew for "names." "These are the names of the Israelites coming to Egypt..." (Exodus 1:1). That might be where we got the name of the parsha, but that is not where the parsha takes us. Namings take place throughout Shemot.
This week's Torah portion, Shemot, finds us studying the Book of Exodus for the first time this year. Probing the text, I began to think about the Hebrew word tevah (ark) that is found only twice in the Torah -- in parshat Noah and in this one.