Saturday, February 15, 2014

"I have called you by name"

In the Torah portion this Shabbat (Ki Tisa), God says, "I have called out by name Bezalel (karati b'shem)..." We learn that Bezalel, singled out by God, is endowed with a divine spirit and will lead the creation of the mishkan.

It is a powerful idea to call someone out by name. In Torah study this morning, several people suggested pieces of the same idea--to be named is to affirm one's fullness of being. To be reduced to a number or to be nameless is to be almost nonexistent. In this passage of Torah, Bezalel and his assistant, Oholiab, are both named with their lineage, so their fathers and tribes are recognized as well. Thus, when we give someone a name, we link them with generations past and we also endow in them hopes and dreams of what they may be. Studies even suggest that a given name has power over a child's development as a person.

Calling each of my children by their name for the first time was spiritually profound. In both cases, I asked Micah (who saw each child first) if the baby looked like the name we planned to give. Once he said yes, the medical team asked what the name was and I said, "Hadara Irene" and then two years later, "Caleb Doron." Setting aside that we then had to explain the origin and meaning of Hadara and Caleb, it was a moment when I truly called my children by name in the most powerful of ways. Like God calling Bezalel and endowing him with divine spirit, saying their names aloud for the first time was a recognition of past and present, and especially future. I could taste the sweetness of the moment, and heard the potential in each name and thus each child. 

To call someone by name is to acknolwedge their being, to say that we see them in an intentional way. And each of us has the responsibility and ability to bring honor to our names, to live out the things with which we were endowed by those who came before, and to create a future of goodness and blessing. 

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