The Parsha begins with the words: V’Eleh Shemos Bnai Yisroel.
We know that the letter Vov is Mosif and comes to add something important. Rashi Z”L asks what is this Vav in the word V’Eyleh coming to tell us since the Shevatim were already counted at the end of Parshas Vayechi. Rashi answers that Hashems love of the Shevatim was so great, comparing them to the stars, that even though he counted them by name when they were alive, Hakodesh Boruch Hu returned to count them again by name after they died.
The Sfas Emes Z”L on the words V’Eyleh Shemos brings the Posuk from Mishlei: “Toiv Shem Tov M’Shemen Tov”; it is better to have a good name then good oil; and explains that Family Yichus is a great thing and a high standard, a Shemen Tov; but it is even a greater madreigah to have a good name that is developed by ones own yegiah and Avodas Hashem, ‘Shem Tov’, bringing the Pshat from Midrash Koheles of the comparison between that of the personification of a good name that is Chananiah and Mishoel who stemmed from a family of idolaters yet proclaimed “Hashem Echad” and thereby survived the Kivshan Ha’Esh to that of Nadav and Ahveehu who although stemming from the great Yichus of Aharon HaKohen and themselves anointed Kohanim to do the Avodah, yet they brought Aish Zorah onto the Mizbeiach.
Says the Sfas Emes that developing a ‘Shem Tov” through ones own efforts at Avodas Hashem and Yegiah is a much more difficult level to attain, demanding constant effort, and is therefore held to a much higher level than Yichus. This was demonstrated by the Shevatim who descended to Mitzrayim not only with the Yichus of the Avos and the subsequent example set by their father Yaakov on what it means tzu leiben Ve ah Yid… VaYechi Yaakov B’Eretz Mitzrayim…but also with their own developed “Shem Tov” and showed that it was possible to live a life of Kedushah in the midst of the severe Golus of Tumas Mitzrayim.
Harav Shimshon Pincus, Z”L on these words V’Eyleh Shemos tells us that it is well known from our Kadmonim that Parshas Shemos heralds the weeks of Shovavim, which are the Roshei Teivos of these ensuing Parshos; Shemos, Va’Eyrah, Boh, Ba’Shalach, Yisro, Mishpatim, Terumah, and Tetzaveh.
This period of Shovavim, says Rav Pincus, corresponding to Golus Mitzrayim which the Torah refers to as Koor Habarzel that served to cleanse and purify Am Yisroel, is therefore a propitious time known to be Mesugal B’Yoiser to work on developing and raising our ‘Shem Tov” through our Teshuvah, Tefillos, Yegiah B’Loshon U’Bmaiseh, and Avodas Hashem.
Therefore in these days of Shovavim, says Rav Pincus, it is important for us to strengthen and work on raising our ‘Shem Tov’ and in this zechus we will be zocheh that Hakodeh Boruch Hu will be a “Ner L’Rosheinu Lishmor Derocheinu’.
V’Eyleh Shemos, What’s In Your Name?