Saturday, January 19, 2019 -
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What’s in a name?

Dear Tzviling,

My fiancé and I are preparing for our wedding, and my rabbi indicated he needs our Hebrew names for the ketubah even though I don’t regularly use them. My Hebrew name is Rochel Geneshe. I am familiar with “Rochel.” But “Geneshe”? What an interesting name. What does it mean? Do all Jewish names have meaning?

Rachel, Vail

Dear Rachel,

Mazel Tov on your upcoming wedding. May you merit to build an everlasting edifice on the foundation of Torah and mitzvos.

Yes, all Jewish names have meanings and provide a glimpse into our Jewish soul. You have a beautiful name — Geneshe.

We think of your name every time we play dreidel during Chanukah. You see, the dreidel (outside Israel) contains four letters — Nun, Gimel, Hei, Shin, for “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” —  A great miracle happened there.

Your name utilizes the same four letters (Gimel, Nun, Shin, Hei). The name was utilized in conjunction with an extraordinary — aka miraculous — pregnancy or birth. Hence, the “miraculous” name. I can tell by your name you’re very special.

And Rochel means sheep.

Dear Tzviling,

I enjoy your column and I am hoping you can shed light on my question.

I recently started attending a local synagogue and find the services somewhat lacking. I expected to be inspired the first time I went, but I left early.

What do you recommend?

Orly, Montreal

Dear Orly,

Let us tell you a story that rings a bell:

Gimple was a simple man with a large family who found it necessary to travel to a distant land in order to gain employment and support his wife and eight children.

Gimple was hired by a wealthy businessman at his home for a period of six months.

During his employment, something fascinating caught his attention. A tiny bell sat religiously on the dining room table. At every meal, the host rang the bell, and an amazing thing happened. The kitchen door would immediately be flung open with three maidservants appearing, laden with delicacies for the first course.

He rang the bell again, and voila, the same thing happened. Three maidservants entered with a fine array of gastronomic delights. This would repeat itself for dessert.

At the conclusion of his term of employment, the host expressed his appreciation to Gimple, and kindly offered him one of his articles of wealth as a souvenir.

‘Take whatever your heart desires: a silver goblet, a fine piece of china, or perhaps an elegant crystal.’

“No,” said Gimple, much to the bewilderment of his host, “there is something else I would like — the bell.”

Gimple was given the bell and ceremoniously made his way home.

Gimple’s long-awaited arrival found his wife and children waiting anxiously for him.

When dinner time rolled around, Gimple assured everyone that an appetizing meal was in store for everyone.

Everyone was shocked, as nothing was prepared. The food pantry was empty.

With smug confidence, Gimple produced the bell and began to ring. And an amazing thing happened: Nothing.

Gimple rang the bell again and again, but alas, no maidservants, no shining platters, no tantalizing dishes.

“I don’t get it,” Gimple sighed. “It worked fine by the host’s meals.”

And Gimple’s wife explained the obvious.

The bell does not create the food. The preparations are done beforehand. The bell is merely a signal for the food to be brought inside.

Orly, the services (at the right synagogue) will be uplifting. Do your share.

Prepare by studying and joining a class on the meaning of prayer. Keep on attending and you will find the inspiration you are seeking.

Send your questions to, to be answered with wit, wisdom and humor by identical twins Rabbis Yisroel Engel (Denver) and Shloime Engel (Montreal) who share their combined 100 years of experience.

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