Behind the name: what is the meaning of the name “Moshe“?

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« He sent from on high [and] He took me; He drew me out of many waters » – these are the words of King David. They are brought in the Book of Shmuel (2), Chapter 22 and also in the Book of Tehillim (Psalm 18, verse 17). According to Rashi’s explanation, the verb ‘drew me out’ (ימשני) comes from the same root (משה) that the name ‘Moshe’ is derived from.

In the language of Kabbalah, the word ‘waters’ indicates the highest levels of Divine light that are too transcendent to be openly revealed within this world. Even as Moshe was ‘drawn out from the water’, and existed within this limited world, he possessed a connection to his transcendent source.

This explanation, however, provokes a question. In a simple sense, the water from which Moshe was drawn out was the Nile River, the divinity of the Egyptians, and the person who gave him the name Moshe was Pharaoh’s daughter. How do these facts fit the mystic explanation quoted above?

 

From the Rebbe’s explanation:

– The answer is that it is precisely such a fusion of opposites that reflected Moshe’s mission in the world.

One of the basic principles of Chassidus is that the energies which have the highest source have the potential to descend to the lowest depths.

Similarly, it is because Moshe’s soul had its source in these high levels did it have the power to enter the depths of Egypt and transform them into a dwelling for G‑d.

From the Rebbe’s talk on Shabbat Parshas Tzav, 8th Day of Nissan, 5751 (1991).

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