[First posted on The Times of Israel: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/korach-destinys-name/]
Ibn Ezra Numbers: Korach
“The real test of a man is not how well he plays the role he has invented for himself, but how well he plays the role that destiny assigned to him.” -Jan Patocka
The age of prophecy has long passed us by, however, the sages claim that there still remains one small spark of prophecy in our lives. That is the moment we name our children. Somehow, in that instant, there is divine inspiration or accord. The child is meant to have the name given and it is much more than a tag to call the child by. It carries some import, some significance that somehow will color the rest of their lives.
In this week’s Torah reading, we have one personality that Ibn Ezra (on Numbers 18:2) explains lived up to his name. It is Levi, the forerunner of the Levite tribe. The word Levi in Hebrew has the same root as the word “to lend”. Ibn Ezra states that the Levites as a whole are basically “lent” by the rest of Israel to the Cohens, to the Temple, with the purpose of participating and assisting in the holy service.
Sometimes a person’s traits can be identified with their name immediately. Sometimes it takes an entire life to understand the connection. And sometimes we only understand generations later the impact that a person had and the connection to that tiny spark of prophecy that is their name.
May we live up to our good names.
To the family of the Good Name and to the sixth grade girls of the Integral school and their parents on the celebration of their Bat-Mitzvah!