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What's In a Name?
Video 5 of 8
So Vatahar Leah - so here's Leah's first child, the Bechor, the firstborn. Vateiled ben - she has a child; Vatikra shemo Reuven - so she calls his name Reuven. Now how did Reuven get this name, because here was what she said. Ki amrah - because she said; Ki ro'oh Hashem b'anyi - G-d has seen - oh look at that, isn't that interesting? G-d has seen; B'anyi - my suffering. Ki ata ye'ehavani ishi - maybe now that I have this child, my husband will love me. So what is Reuven named for? Interestingly, Reuven is named for seeing. His very name means G-d saw my suffering.
Now let's continue and look at the next child. Vatahar od - and then she conceived again; Vateiled ben - and she gave birth to another child. Vatomer - and this time she said; Ki shamah - oh isn't that interesting? Ki shamah - G-d has heard; Ki senu'ah onochi - that I am hated, that I am comparatively unloved. Vayiten li gam et zeh - and therefore G-d has given me this child too. Vatikra shemo Shimon - and she named him Shimon - the hearing one. G-d has seen my suffering, G-d has heard that I am comparatively unloved. These two senses, seeing and hearing are what these children, Reuven and Shimon respectively, are named after.
Okay so now having seen these names, Reuven's name and how he got it over here, Shimon's name and how he got it over here, the seeing and the hearing, let's bring the knowledge that we've gained over here, back into the eight verses we've been looking at and see what emerges.
Okay the brothers are talking among themselves, not knowing that Joseph is listening and they say, quote - I'm just going to put the quotation marks in here. Aval asheimim anachnu - but we are guilty; Al achinu - for our brother; Asher ra'inu tzarat nafsho - okay so now let's take this and add what we've learned. We've seen his pain, we saw his pain; V'loh shamanu - but we did not hear. Well who was the seeing brother? The seeing brother of course is Reuven, named for the sense of sight. Who is the hearing brother, named for the sense of sound? That is going to be Shimon. Let's continue. Vaya'an Reuven - and now Reuven the seeing brother, he speaks up and he says; Haloh amarti aleichem - back at the pit didn't I tell you; Al techtu bayeled - don't sin against the child; V'loh shamatem - but someone was stopping me. I was the seeing brother, I was saying, don't do this. We saw, we just didn't hear. V'loh shamatem - you didn't hear. What's the subtext? Who was stopping me? The hearing brother. What they were seeing - there was Reuven, but there wasn't Shimon. Gam damo hinei nidrash - and now his blood is being avenged.
Of course; V'heim lo yadu ki shomei'ah Yosef - they didn't realize that Yosef was listening this whole time. Yosef now hearing about the culpability of Shimon, hearing Reuven - seeing Reuven on his side, hearing about Shimon, hearing about there being no, so to speak, hearing, imprisons Shimon, the hearing one.
Okay so this is what I'm going to call level 2 in our understanding, which is the wordplay kind of deepens as we bring in the names and their correlation with these senses, with hearing and seeing. But there's one more level of understanding here which I think takes us even one level deeper than this, I'm going to call it level 3. Level 3 requires that we go back and take one last look at the names of these children, Reuven, Shimon, and exactly how they got them, and bring that back into these eight verses that we've been looking at too. So let's come back and do that.
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