Names are important — they tell where you come from and sometimes affect where you are going.
This past week I gave a “homework assignment” to our children to find out the story of their names — something everyone should know! Who you are named after and why, tells about you, your family and your history, so if you don’t know, it’s time to find out.
Names and naming in the Torah are also important. Who is named as well as who isn’t gives us understanding of their part in the story and not being named doesn’t necessarily mean that person wasn’t crucial. The Torah begins with naming — Adam, from the earth, and Eve, mother of all living. Adam names Eve and is also given the job, responsibility and honor of naming all the animals. There is a children’s book titled The Naming by Margaret Greaves. Adam gives names to the animals and it says, “By their names the animals came to know themselves, for names have great power.” Each animal is named and the traits are listed — and the last one is the unicorn. What a wonderful way to end a story, especially for those who love being unique.
A little aside about unicorns from creationtoday.org — yes, unicorns are mentioned in the Tanakh!
Numbers 23:22 “God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of a unicorn.”
Numbers 24:8 “God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of a unicorn: He shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.”
Job 39:9 “Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?”
Job 39:10 “Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee?”
Psalms 29:6 “He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.”
Psalms 92:10 “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil.”
Deuteronomy 33:17 “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”
Psalms 22:21 “Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.”
Isaiah 34:7 “And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.”
One last animal naming story: For those who like Bob Dylan, check out his song Man Gave Names to All the Animals. We are fascinated by names, both those of people and of our animals. After you share the story of names with the people in your family, talk about your pet’s name. What does that say about the pet… and about you?
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center