A man without a name.

That would seem to be the fate of the disgruntled מקלל —Blasphemer, who is only identified as the 'son of the Israelite woman', with the Torah mentioning only that 'the name of his mother was Shlomis the daughter of Divri, of the tribe of Dan.

Why the mystery?

At first glance it would seem reasonable to suggest that the blasphemer's identity is hidden and his mother's exposed in order to emphasize that this pour soul — who was fathered by the Egyptian taskmaster; denied membership in the tribe of Dan; not entitled to a portion in the promised land — is not to be spotlighted for his livid blasphemous behavior, and rather placing the blame for his misfortune on his promiscuous mother.

The Midrash breaks down the detailed description of his mother by first analyzing her name, שלומית. It is rooted in the word שלום that is often used in the context of greeting others with the proverbial "Shalom" — "Peace be with you!", that she was known for. She was a socialite 'prattler,' indiscriminately engaging everyone in conversation.

The noting that she was a daughter of דברי, alludes to the word דבר — plague, referring to her having been the catalyst for her son's blasphemy that was punished by death.

Lastly, the reference to her lineage from 'the tribe of Dan', emphasizing her son's circumstance and actions that brought shame to her family and the entire tribe.

The Midrash sums it all up with the following words: גנאי לאמו, גנאי לו, גנאי למשפחתו  — a disgrace to his mother, a disgrace to himself, a disgrace to his family and tribe.

This is not simply intended to accentuate the multiple shame that resulted from this woman's 'friendly' behavior that brought her attention to the lustful taskmaster. 

It is much deeper than that.

Why does a person babble incessantly with those around them? A person who is unhappy with themself, seeks identity through the validation of others. One who lives by a higher credo, confident with their personal character, accomplishments and beliefs, journeys silently through life engaging purposefully, when necessary, with others, but never simply to gain attention and attain artificial notice and worthiness.

This mother lacked a healthy sense of self-esteem. In desperation for an identity, she sought it by mindless connections and shallow validation.

In her shame and dejected status, she refused to discover her true self. Wallowing in self-pity raising a child she likely resented — as the Midrash emphasizes — he was 'a disgrace to his mother' — he grew up feeling unwanted and unworthy. Perhaps, when the Midrash interprets the name Divri as relating to this son's dire status as a 'Dever' — a plague, it implies this son's suspicion he was a plague upon his mother — unworthy and inconsequential.

That sense of shamefulness prodded him into further resentment towards the members of his tribe, as he felt rejected by the reality of his ineligibility to cast his lot among them. Unable to find purpose among the mosaic of the tribe, this dejection propelled him to angrily blaspheme G-d over his misfortune in life.

There are many challenging circumstances in life that can defeat a person's ambition to plod on.

One can only succeed in overcoming hopelessness if one places one's goals within a higher consciousness.

The sages when parting from one another in the academy of Rav Ami, heading towards their personal destinies, would wish one another, עולמך תראה בחייך — "May you see 'your world' in your lifetime!" The world they were referring to is the World to Come, a realm where our souls will cleave in a heightened perception of G-d, in exquisite joy. When one realizes that we can perfect our souls even amidst the challenges of apparent rejection and physical disconnection, discovering joy even on earth with the awareness that G-d is with us and rejoicing over our hurtling over our personal barriers — that is when we draw from the reality of the 'World to Come' in overcoming the mundaneness of earthly existence.

If only his mother would have turned her challenge on its head, abandoning her pursuit of shallow connection and discover her personal greatness; accepting the child without shame, embracing him with purposeful devotion; conveying with love his worthiness in G-d's eye's, social standing notwithstanding — things might have turned out much differently.

The blasphemer is depicted as ויצא — He went out. From where? Rebbi Levi says, מעולמו יצא — he left his 'world', his connection to that higher reality.  

Years ago, there was a young man who was raised among a family of pious scholars. He was a restless child, incapable of focusing on his studies, yet possessed sterling character and sensitivity. Despite his attempts to maintain his family's levels of scholarly achievement, he simply was not on par with his sibling's standard. His mother took him to task, blaming his lack of success on diminished ambition and diligence.

Upon finishing high school and poised to enter Beis Medrash, his parents 'embarrassingly' enrolled him in a Yeshiva out of town, in what they considered a second rate Yeshiva. Feeling their rejection, he felt emancipated with his newfound independence, setting himself off on a new fresh, free from the disappointment of his parents.

He struggled in his new Yeshiva as well, but quickly made a reputation for himself as the kindest and most devoted to others in need of help among his peers and teachers. He developed a deep friendship with one of the students who invited him regularly to his home for Shabbos and Yom Tov. He discovered that in contrast to his own family who constantly judged and belittled him by comparing him to others, the mother in his 'newfound' home, would always express admiration for his sterling middos, and evident yiras Shamayim, warmly welcoming him into the family.

He remained close with them over the years, rarely going home to his displeased parents, eventually finding a marvelous shidduch due to the support and direction of his friend's mother and father.

His 'family' lovingly tendered the last of his Sheva Brachos in their home. The Chosson felt compelled to say a few words in gratitude to this remarkable woman and her family that helped him discover his personal worthiness. He offered the following thoughts.

"I found in this place what a true 'home' is. It is not the furniture or the apartment that makes a home a 'bayis'. With my beloved bride I hope to emulate what I have experienced here. A place where guests are welcomed and are perceived for the unique beauty within them. I want to build a home where, as the Talmud states, ביתו זו אשתו — a home is synonymous with a wife. Where we will see only the good and the positive in the other. My biological brothers may have all found nice and spacious apartments, but I found a 'home'! I want to live in a 'home' that is truly a 'bayis', as the Rebbetzin of this 'home' often expressed: 'A home is a place where when you arrive, they are happy that you came, they are happy with who 'you' are, and when you leave, they long for your return!'"

The mother, who was deeply touched by these heartfelt words, turned to the young couple, and said that she had something she must share with them.

She retold how as a young wife with small children, the family moved from Bayit V'Gan to their new home in Har Nof. It was on a Motzei Shabbos shortly after moving in they decided to make a Chanukas HaBayis. She invited a small group of her close friends and relatives, setting the table with her finest dinnerware, preparing delicious fare.

Her husband's chavrusah who lived in Nachlaot, who was close with Reb Shlomo Carlebach called his friend offering to bring Reb Shlomo to join and inspire the crowd as only he knew how. There was one catch. When Reb Shlomo held court, he had a crowd of some forty 'chasidim' who would inevitably tag along. When she heard that forty more people were to attend, she panicked. How could she properly provide the space let alone food for so many sudden extra guests. She and her husband decided they could come, and she instructed her husband to pick up forty lachmaniyot from Angel's and some naknikiyot from the local makolet. It wasn't quite the elegant meal she intended but the spirit, song, and camaraderie were 'mamesh' out of this world.

At the end of the extraordinary night, she approached Reb Shlomo apologizing for having been unable to serve in a manner befitting her initial sophisticated intentions.

Reb Shlomo warmly waved her apologies away with a smile, saying that 'aderabah', she merited something even greater, 'mamesh a gevald' !

"What a merit you had, to invite so many people, to feed them and open your heart to them.

"You know what a 'bayis' is?", Reb Shlomo asked, "A home is a place where when you arrive, they are happy that you came, they are happy with who 'you' are, and when you leave, they long for your return! You think anyone will ever remember what color napkin you set? A home is not defined by its walls but rather by how wide one opens one's heart towards those who enter its space. What you did was truly a Chanukas HaBayis!" (As told by famed writer, Shimon Breitkoff, son of Rebbetzin Naomi Breitkoff a"h, the Rebbetzin in the story)

The World to Come is described as a place where צדיקים יושבים — the righteous are welcomed and situated. A place where when you arrive, they are happy that you came.

ועטרותיהם בראשיהן — their crowns upon their heads. They are happy with who 'You' are. Each one with their unique 'crowning' achievement.

ונהנין מזיו השכינה — deriving pleasure from the radiance of the Divine Presence. G-d's warmth and love illuminates our souls. When you leave, they long for your return.

עולמך תראה בחייך — May we each merit to sense the glow of that 'world' in our lives daily!


צבי יהודה טייכמאן