After hearing about all the miracles Hashem wrought for
, Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, goes to join them. He brings along Moshe's wife and two sons. The Torah mentions the names of the sons and again explains the reasoning behind them: "The name of one was Gershom, for he had said, 'I was a stranger in a strange land,' and the name of one was Eliezer, for 'the God of my father came to my aid and He saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.' " Why are the names and their explanation repeated when we were already told, at least of Gershom almost exactly the same words in
. Secondly, it would seem that the first son should be called Eliezer, for Moshe was able to flee successfully from Pharaoh after Moshe killed the Egyptian. Only then did he reside as a stranger in Midian. Finally, each is referred to in the Hebrew as "the one", rather than "the one" and "the other". Yet, we are still told that the placement of these verses here is an appropriate introduction to the first of the Ten Commandments
Ramban provides a simple explanation. Now, when all the dangers are past, is an appropriate time to thank Hashem for all the good He has done. And now Hashem has informed Moshe that those who wished to kill him were no longer alive. Only now could Moshe feel he was no longer a fugitive. Therefore, naming his first son Gershom and his second son Eliezer is indeed the appropriate order.
These names were not just for Moshe's son but a constant reminder of Hashem's help to
. Our nation will constantly be strangers in strange lands, but in all our difficulties and challenges we must remember that the "One is my God, the God of my father" Who will always be with me to save me. The
cites the Chofetz Chaim z"l and Rabbi Feinstein z'l, that Moshe was living with Yitro in an alien culture. Naming his son Gershom would be a constant reminder to retain their separateness. Only after Moshe saw that he could do so did he feel comfortable thanking Hashem for His help. If he and the Jewish people had become assimilated, we would not have been worthy of salvation. Indeed, this is the message for all of us to maintain our Jewish identity wherever we find ourselves. This was the promise of Hashem to Avraham Avinu, your descendants will be strangers in a strange land but they will never lose their identity, and then I will redeem them writes the
This very same message is alluded to in the first of the Ten Commandments, contends the Netivot Shalom. It's not just that we accept Hashem as our God, but also that we constantly remember that He took us out of Egypt, and that He can take us out of any exile or situation. It is this Utterance that helps us stay focused on anticipating the salvation, and it is this name that Moshe constantly said to himself as a mantra to remember that he is always the
, the one who is different, the stranger awaiting Hashem's salvation, writes the
notes that one of the 48 aspects through which one can acquire Torah is through truly feeling the pain of another. Rabbi Wolbe z"l points out that even if you can do nothing substantive to help someone, you can always pray for him. When Moshe was in Midian, he could do nothing for
, but through the names he gave his sons, he kept their situation always at the forefront on his consciousness.
explains that we are all strangers in this world until we reach our final destination in the World to Come. If we remember this, we will not waste our limited time. This is how the
interprets the term
, someone who is "a man of the land (earth)". He considers himself only of this world, without contemplating the effects his actions have on the future world. In the Ten Utterances Hashem speaks to us in the singular, "I am Hashem your (personal, singular) God Who took you (yourself) out of Egypt." It is the presence of God in our lives that makes our lives in this world meaningful.
Moshe named each of his children as an individual. "One was named... and one was named..." Just as Hashem sees the uniqueness of each of us, so did Moshe view his children, writes the
. As parents and as teachers, we must also see the uniqueness of each of our children, adds the
. Each child reflects a different aspect of Hashem. Our job is to uncover it, nurture it, and point it in the right direction.
That is why Man was created as a single entity, adds Rabbi Wolbe z"l. And that's why this passage is a perfect introduction to receiving the Torah. The words were spoken to each of us as individuals in a way we could hear to fulfill our unique roles.