Living Up to Our Names

God names Bezalel, giving him inspiration to lead.

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In the words of Robert Maynard Hutchins, the former head of the Encyclopedia Britannica, "The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives." Bezalel is called upon to serve as a teacher so that the Israelites can learn as much about the artisan's craftsmanship as the leader's responsibility to his community. By inspiring his or her constituents to live up to their own names by reaching their potential, Bezalel earns the designation of working "in the shadow of God."

The circumstances surrounding the introduction of Bezalel remain shrouded in some confusion, yet his name truly articulates the mission of a leader. While Bezalel merits living up to his name by working "in the shadow of God," his true mission was to teach others how to find the shelter of God's presence by living up to their own names. Today by striving to reach our potential and live up to our names as Jews, each one of us can enter into the shadow of God.

Anne Bernays asserts in The Language of Names that "our name is our passport to wherever it is we need to go." Thinking back to my conversation on the plane to Israel, I realize now that my Hebrew name, Simcha, happiness, has always represented the ultimate destination.

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Rabbi Charles Savenor

Rabbi Charles E. Savenor is the Director of Kehella (Congregational) Enrichment for United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.