by Rabbi Avi Matmon
Any self-improvement course, for example Dale Carnegie, will emphasize that if one is to achieve the keys to success, one has to incorporate an ability of remembering names. Calling somebody by his or her name, draws them closer and will give them the feeling of, 'Hey, I'm important'. The reason for this is that a name is the essence of who we are.
The weekly Torah reading (parasha), begins with '"Vayikra el Moshe" - and [G-d] called to Moshe'. Our sages teach us that Moshe was given ten names, and each name represents a facet of his personality. Batya,Pharaoh's daughter, who went against her father's decree, which was to kill all Jewish male newborns, drew the basket containing baby Moshe, out of the water. Moshe is the name she picked. But apparently, there is a linguistic problem with the name. The name Moshe means "will draw from the water" as opposed to Mashehu, drew from the water - past tense. If the Torah wants to reward Pharaoh's daughter and to glorify the courageous, self-sacrificing act she did, why is he called Moshe? Mashehu is better suited. We learn from our sages that when G-d created Adam, the angels asked, "What is the nature of man?" Whereas G-d replied, "His wisdom will exceed yours". This was demonstrated by man naming all beings of creation something no angel could master. It's an accomplished task and takes great wisdom to accurately give someone his or her true name.
The sages say G-d gave divine spirit to fathers, a gifted trait passed down from Adam to incorporate names to their newborns. Of course the father has to be in unison with the mother. The word 'name' in Hebrew is pronounced 'shem'. If one changes the vowels under the letters of shem, it would be pronounced 'sham' meaning 'there', indicating one has to go there, has to get to a destination for one to complete his task which is associated with his name. Shem and sham are incorporated in the word ne-sham-mah (soul). Man's soul is brought down in this world to fulfill his mission. The Torah hints of people who have fulfilled their name potential. The Torah sometimes writes 'ushemo David' (his name is David), ushemo Manoah (his name is Manoah), 'ushemo Mordechai', etc. Before the name, there is an introduction, a chaperone, 'Ushemo'. This indicates that he will be seated (sham) there in the ultimate destination - heaven. However, the Torah indicates there are those that are written "Naval shemo". Here the shemo follows the individual name indicating he did not accomplish his task in this world.
Moshe has ten names, each indicating a separate dimension of his multi-faceted personality. Each name portrays a side not described by the other. Yet, it was the name Moshe by which he was known. Apparently, this name, more than others, is the central feature of his personality. Batya prophesized that this baby boy will draw people out of trouble. His task will be to help the Jewish people and to lead them out of slavery. The measure of kindness that Batya showed towards this boy was tremendous. However, the emphasis is not on her accomplishments, but on the potential she saw in this child, which prompted her to call him Moshe.