Parshat Shemot: Brand Names

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Brand Names
15 Jan 2009
Arts & Media

Some people can name their price;

Others can price their names…


We here shall do neither:


Our names are priceless

And our prices shall remain



Instead let us talk of names:

Their character, personality

And reason


As any fence can attest, the

Human Being loves to straddle –

That is: man can never resist placing

One foot on the platform while the other

Reaches for the train and if I were an anthropologist

(And who isn’t?) I’d venture to say it’s because we fear

Leaving the static comfort of today for the dynamic

Possibility of tomorrow


But the Torah, which inspires these words, is alive,

Constantly in motion, helping us grow, moving us

Onward, ensuring our present aspiration never becomes

Our future prison


So, as we straddle any chain-link, barbwire or even electric

The words of truth constantly pushes us off and turns us on to

Something more – while a world tries to create a fence, a barrier

Between what is body and what is soul, between what is who we are

And how we express ourselves, the Torah bridges the gap, and with

Every mitzvah, connection, the gap between what we believe and what

We do is full-filled, the barrier greatly dividing the potential of our purity

And the action of our flesh is torn down, recycled and turned into a bridge.


And it begins now, in Egypt, in the land of borders:


And these are the names

Of the Children of Israel

Who were coming to Egypt


Egypt, a place of differences, where

The possibility for disconnect, hate

And anger is very real and the love

And unity most difficult to come by –

You see, in Egypt, when one looks

At his brother he sees a different body

With a different face and a different name;

In Egypt one can very easily be blind to the

Soul which unites us all and binds us together.


These are the names


Souls are never exiled, be it in Egypt

Of then or Egypt of today; souls by

Definition are in constant connect…

It is merely the names, the expressions,

The body with which one relates to another,

That is imprisoned in a state of unawareness


The challenge is for name recognition and name tags,

Knowing our names, how we relate to the outside world,

Is just as divine as our souls, how we relate to the inside



And this is the purpose of Egypt in the first place:

Going down into the confines so that we can turn

Them into expansion, the names descending down

Low so that they reflect how they too are really high


Names aren’t who we are;

They merely reflect who we are


And we inspire for the

Two to walk hand in hand:

The soul reflected in the name

The name reflecting the soul


These are the names


Names plural:


Regarding the soul, essence we are one;

Regarding our names, expressions we are plural –

We each express ourselves in our own unique way.

The purpose is to use our names, each our particular

Expressions to convey the unity that is our soul –

When that happens we arise out of Egypt unified

Mind, body and soul


Hey, that’s the name game;

You gonna be a player?

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.