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Section: Parshas HaShavua   Category: Medrash
Medrash Bamidbar: The Secret in the Name

The Medrash Agadah explains the significance and meaning of the names of the Nasi of each Shevet and its relevance to that particular Shevet.

Reuven: Elitzur Be Shdei’ur – Reuven erred when after Rochel’s death he moved Yaakov’s bed from Bilha’s tent to that of his mother, Leah.  Keli Tzur means Hashem who holds up the world like a cornerstone holds the house, strengthened Reuven by forgiving him.  The name, Ben Shdei Ur, signifies that Reuven learned to do Tshuva from Yehuda who did Tshuva and admitted to his aveira rather than have the pregnant Tamar thrown into the fire. Shdei Ur is Aramaic for thrown into the fire.

Shimon:  Shlumiel Ben TzuriShadai – Although Zimri came from Shevet Shimon nevertheless Hashem made peace with Shimon and forgave him. Shlumi Kel, means peace with Hashem,  Who was TzuriShaddai, the rock who supported him.

Yehuda:  Nachshon ben AmiNadav – Because he jumped into the roaring rapids of the Yam Suf (Nachshol), he became the friend of Hashem (Nediv) and was zocheh to the Malchus of Am Yisrael.

Yisachar: Nesanel ben Tzu’ar – Yisachar, out of all the Shevatim dived deepest into Torah learning.  Nasan Kel, They took the present that Hashem gave.  Tzuar, they accepted the burden and pain (Tzaar) of always answering all the Halachik questions of Bnei Yisrael.


Zevulun:  Eliav ben Cheilon – Eli is from Alon the wood that boats are made of.  Eli Av signifies the bracha of the boats for succesfu sailing that Yaakov his father gave him.  Ben Cheilon is the Bracha of Moshe Rabbeinu, "U’Sfunei Tmunei Chol,"  riches will be hidden in the sand on the seashore in Zvulun’s portion in Eretz Yisrael.

Efraim:  Elishama ben Amihud – When tempted by Potifar’s wife, EliShama to Me (Hashem) Yosef listened and didn’t do an aveira.  Ben Amihud, Imi Haya, Yosef was with Me, Hashem says, when Yosef spurned the advances of the wife of Potifar.


Menashe:  Gamliel ben PidaTzur – Therefore, Hashem granted him (Gomal Kel) his freedom from slavery.  Padah Tzur, Hashem redeemed him.

Binyomin: Avidan ben Gidoni – His father judged him differently than his mother, Avi Dan.  She was sure that he wouldn’t survive child birth and called him Ben Oni, but his father knew better and foretold of the many legions that would come from him (Gidudim).

Dan: Achiezer ben AmiShaddai – Oholiav from Shevet Dan helped Betzalel from Yehuda build the Mishkan.  Achi Ezer means he helped his brother.  (AmiShaddai is unclear from the Medrash).

Asher: Pagi’el ben Achran – Shevet Asher had beautiful daughters who were taken as wives by the kings.  If someone did something bad (Achran) warranting the death sentence from the King, these women would daven for them (Pagiel) to be spared.

Gad: Elyasaf ben Di’uEl – Yehoshua gave Gad a bracha that they should return to Eiver HaYarden with great wealth (Kel Yasaf, Hashem added wealth) since they fulfilled their promise to Moshe to lead the battle in Eretz Yisroel.  Ben Di’uEl, they would scream, "Shema Yisrael," in battle so all would know that victory was only achieved through Hashem (Di’u Kel, know Hashem).

Naftali: Achira ben Einan – His pasture was very desirable (Achi – pasture, Ra – Ratzon desirable).  Ben Einan, rain clouds (Anan) and deep springs (Mayan) were plentiful in his portion of Eretz Yisroel always guaranteeing a luscious bumper crop.

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