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Shemot is the name of the Parsha as well as the Sefer we are beginning. The word means “names” and refers to the names of Yaakov’s sons who are listed at the beginning of the parsha. Sefer Shemot is the journey of these names from a group of individuals into a nation of multitudes.

Our Rabbis tell us that one reason the Jewish people merited to be redeemed from Egypt is that they never changed their Jewish names. Even when we were small enough to be counted, we always had national aspirations. We always valued what made us as a people special.