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Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes in Sefer Hamiddos (Mohel, 6): “If a person does an act of chesed, a name they give will endure. Hence, before naming a baby, one should do an act of kindness so the name of the child will endure.”

In his footnotes to Sefer Hamiddos, Rav Nachman of Tcherin cites a Midrash that hints at Rebbe Nachman’s idea. The Gemara tells us that Moshe had seven different names (Megillah 13a). Yet the only name that has endured until this day, and the only name that Hashem uses in the Torah, is “Moshe,” because it came about through an act of kindness. The name means, “He was drawn from the water” (Rashi on Shemos 2:10). It was given by Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, who rejected her father’s cruel decree and saved the Hebrew child she found in the river and subsequently raised as her own in the royal palace. Because she performed an act of chesed, the name she gave is the one that endures forever.


The name Moshe, a name that is rooted in kindness, is applied to the Torah itself, as it is called Toras Moshe – the Torah of Moshe. This is appropriate, for the Talmud notes: “Acts of loving-kindness are the beginning and the end of the Torah” (Sotah 14a). Furthermore, as the Be’er Moshe points out, the word “Torah” has the same numerical value as the words gemilus chasadim, “loving-kindness,” for acts of loving-kindness are the Torah’s very essence (Be’er Moshe Shemos 17).

As we engage with each other and discuss current events happening within the greater Jewish community, especially during this trying time when controversial topics are in the headlines and strong opinions are being expressed, let us remember to treat each other with kindness and respect, as not doing so would be contrary to the very essence of the Torah.


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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at