Dreaming of Moshiach

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Root of Semite

What is the root of the word Semite? The word Shem (Semite) means 'a name' and it derives from Shem, the youngest son of Noach, zs'kl.

Shem was born circumcised and later became a Cohen and a prophet and is one of the eight righteous men mentioned twice in the Torah. Shem is styled "the' great one" ("Shem rabba"; Sanh. 108b) and it was Shem who offered the Korban (sacrifices on the altar) after coming out of the ark. After Noach was crippled by the lion, he was unfit for the priestly office and therefore, Noah gave his youngest son, Shem, the priestly garments which he had inherited from Adam HaRishon, zs'kl.

Shem established the first Yeshiva and among his pupils was Yaakov Avinu, a'h. Later, Shem was joined by Eber, zs'kl, and the yeshiva was named after both of them. The Yeshiva also served as the first Bet Din which promulgated the laws current in those times.

Shem is extolled by the Rabbis for his filial devotion in covering his father's nakedness. Shem's reward for this deed is seen in the fact that the Jews, his descendants, cover themselves with the Tallit and phylacteries.

Next time you witness or hear of an anti-Semitic act, know that the act in itself does not suggest geographical or racial entities - it derives from the rule of עשו שונא ליעקב Esav hates Yaakov (avinu, a'h).




והיה השם למלך על כל הארץ, ביום ההוא יהיה השם אחד - ושמו אחד ישתבח שמו לעד לנצח נצחים בכל העולמות Blessed is His name for eternity in all worlds אין עוד מלבדו