One of the very first chapters in Dale Carnegie's monumental masterpiece How to Win Friends and Influence People deals with the invaluable lesson of remembering people's names.
One of the very first chapters in Dale Carnegie's monumental masterpiece How to Win Friends and Influence People deals with the invaluable lesson of remembering people's names. There is an old saying that a person's name is the sweetest sound in any language. There are certain people, whom I hold in high regard, who make a sincere effort to commit to memory the names of everyone they meet. On the other hand, if you forget to mention someone's name in a thank you speech or in a roster, you can safely assume that a major catastrophe is in the making. Then there are the people who add titles to their name which are not earned or properly deserved. What is it about names which make them so important?
The best example of a missing name appears (or rather doesn't) in this week's Torah portion. From the time of his birth until his death, Moses' name is mentioned in every Torah portion except for this week. What happened?
Next week's Torah portion discusses the incident of the golden calf. Afterwards, in a heated moment of anger, Moses turns to Hashem and says, " If you do not forgive the Jewish people, then erase my name from Your book" (Exodus 32:32). Although, Hashem did, in fact, pardon the Jewish people, Moses' word was so powerful that it came true anyway.
The Vilna Gaon, the acknowledged leader of non-Chassidic Jewry of Eastern Europe during the 18th century, explains that the reason why Moses' name is blotted out of this week's Torah portion as opposed to next week's is because Moses died on the 7th day of the month of Adar which took place on Tuesday of this week. By not mentioning his name, says the Vilna Gaon, we are foreseeing his death.
A name is not simply a means of identification, but a person's name is a treasure. Its value to its owner is immeasurable. Let's all try to call people by their names and we'll be speaking the sweetest language of all.
Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan, is currently a sophomore at Georgia State University.
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