Calling someone by name is a natural way to address someone you are close with. A mother calling one of her children to the table, a father gathering his children by saying their names, a teacher doing attendance all involve the same act—that of calling a person by his name, that represents the child’s self and his essence in the world, according to our Sages.
When calling a child to us we awaken his self-awareness, as well as his feelings about us. Our tone of voice and our approach reflects to the child the essence of our relationship. If he is endearing, we say his name a certain way, if he is annoying we might say his name differently. When speaking about a person we don’t like to think about, we tend to avoid using their name too much. “That man” or “the boy” for a non-compliant neighbor, or “that store” for an unpleasant shopping experience is a common way of expressing disdain or disgust. We could not imagine calling one of our children “that child” or “the child”, unless we were very, very upset with some unreasonable behavior going on.
Dear and precious, Moshe Rabenu was called upon, with honors, by his Father in Heaven at the beginning of this parsha, Vayikra. Even though Moshe, in his humility, tried to minimize his importance in the eyes of the world, this does not undermine the great significance of his being called by name, with affection, by Hashem. Many of us have no concept of how much importance we attribute to a child, just by saying his name. Moishele, Zissy, Sarah, Avi, Tzvika, Sasha, Michael, Sharon, Rachel, Jason, Ben, Joe, Odelia. It makes no difference what your name is, as long as someone you love is calling your name. If that person is your loving parent, it is eternally humbling and heart-warming, just knowing that Dad is thinking of you with affection.
THIS WEEK: Names are a strong bonding tool. Call your children by name when giving them attention. Try to write endearing notes, with your children’s names written on them, and posting them on the bathroom mirror (6 kids-6 different notes). Make a family tree with the children’s names written in various colors. These all contribute to a child’s self-confidence and feelings of being loved and cared for—just with a name!