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Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Bamidbar – Numbers 1:1-4:20

Have you had this challenge? My daughter hates her name. A while back she tried to convince my wife to let her change it. Madliyen, her name in Hebrew, translates to Madeleine in English. It took a long time to come up with an elegant name. But she’s convinced it doesn’t fit her heart’s desire. So we had a little talk about names based on this week’s parsha, Bamidbar:

And the tribe of Gad, and the leader of the children of Gad, Eliasaph son of Reuel… (Numbers/Bamidbar 1:2)

How to Find Your Heart’s Desire…In Seconds

This Sabbath’s parsha begins the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers. It’s Hebrew name, Bamidbar, means wilderness.  G-d commands Moses to take a census of the Children of Israel.  Next He gives the arrangement of the tribes into four camps that will travel with and encamp around the Holy Ark.  Then the Levites are appointed to the service of the Tabernacle in place of the first-born. From this comes the mitzvah of Pidyon Haben, the redemption of the first-born, still done today.

What’s in a Name?

Many people choose their children’s names because they sound good. But words have meaning. So do names. In Parshas Vayeitzei, Jacob’s wives express their aspirations or exasperation in the names of their sons and daughter. Earlier in the Torah, Isaac gets his name from Sarah laughing at the idea she’ll have a child when she is so old.

My daughter’s name comes from the Hebrew verb that means to draw (water). In the Torah, water symbolizes wisdom. Put the verb in the reflexive tense, add the suffix for females, and you get Madliyen. My wife and I hope she will uplift women.

Despite my explaining it to her, Madeleine remains unconvinced. We hope as she matures she will find value in the mission we wish for her.

Finding Your Heart’s Desire

Your parents may have been less than intentional about embedding aspirations in your name. Still, your name has meaning. Have you ever checked into it?

At names.org you can find a lot of information about your name. Included are its language and meaning both as a word and by individual letters. It doesn’t have my daughter’s name. But mine means handsome. Hey, no conceit here. Blame my parents.

Take a few seconds and research your name at names.org. What insight do you get into your heart’s desire or life’s mission? Does it highlight part of your character? Not satisfied? Text you folks and ask them why they named you as they did. The answer may surprise you.

Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. True enough. But you’re more complex than a flower. Finding your heart’s desire may change the direction of your life.

What does your name mean? Please comment below.


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

© , Kevin S. Bemel, All Rights Reserved

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