The Weekly Shtikle Blog

An online forum for sharing thoughts and ideas relating to the Parshas HaShavua

View Profile

Friday, February 17

פרשת יתרו - Stranger in a Strange Land

At the beginning of this week's parsha we are once again given the reason behind the naming of Gershom : "Ki ger hayisi b'eretz nochria", because I was a stranger in a strange land. Here the explanation of Eliezer's name is given as well, "Ki elokei avi b'ezri, vayatzileini micherev paroah", apparently referring to Moshe's escape from execution at the hands of Paroah. At first glance, these names seem to be out of order. The cause for the naming of Gershom seems to have been preceded by that of Eliezer. Moshe was a stranger in Midyan after he escaped from the hands of Paroah. My Rebbe from Eretz Yisroel, R' Yeshaya Greenwald suggests that perhaps there is a different explanation behind Gershom's name. In the years leading up to Gershom's birth, Moshe realized that although he seemed at home in Egypt as a prince and leading quite a good life, he was nevertheless a stranger in a strange land. So "Ki ger hayisi..." is in fact referring to Moshe's years in Mitzrayim rather than those in Midyan. This explanation is supported by the fact that Moshe says "Ki ger hayisi," in the past tense, even while he is still living in Midyan (2:22).

Another interesting point concerning the naming of Gershom and Eliezer: For Gershom it says "vesheim ha'echad Gershom". And than for Eliezer, "vesheim ha'echad Eliezer". One would have expected the use of ordinal numbers such as "Sheim Harishon... vesheim hasheni" in this case. Why are they both referred to as "ha'echad"? R' Greenwald suggests that the answer may lie in the Midrash on the pasuk (2:22) "Vayoel Moshe" which states that Moshe made a pact with his father-in-law to give his first son to Avodah Zarah (or some manifestation thereof.) Therefore, Gershom was the "ben ha'echad," the one son for Avoda Zarah and Eliezer was the "ben ha'echad" laShem.

Perhaps the answer to the second question could be used to answer the first. Since Moshe had this pact with Yisro, he didn't want to mention any specific praise of HaShem which would convey to Yisro that he had not kept to the deal. Therefore, Gershom was given a more generic, religion-less name while Moshe waited until his second child to mention the praise of HaShem for saving him from Paroah's sword but it indeed did come first.

שבת שלום


Post a Comment

<< Home