“And it was because the midwives feared Hashem that He made for them houses.” (Shemos 1:21)

 The Gemara in Sotah (11b) brings the opinions of Rav and Shmuel: One says that “houses” is referring to the houses of kehunah and leviah since Aharon and Moshe came from the midwives; the other says it’s referring to the house of meluchah (royalty), since Dovid came from them.

Rashi says that Yocheved and Miriam merited all three “houses” — kehunah, leviah, and meluchah.

The question arises: What about the House of Torah? Didn’t Moshe represent that? (Rav Refoel Eliyahu Eliezer Mishkovsky, rav of Kfar Chassidim)



hat’s it! I’m changing my name!” My bar mitzvah boy stomped into the house after school. “All anyone talks about is which yeshivah they’re going to! I’m sick of it.”

“What does that have to do with changing your name?” I put a cold cup of milk in front of him. “And what’s wrong with the name Chaim?”

“I’m changing my last name.” He sat back with a smug smile. “To Kanievsky! That way every yeshivah will accept me without any trouble.”

I chuckled, but his words suddenly reminded me of Chani. I wondered what ever became of her.

Anytime the Torah says the word “house,” it’s referring to something eternal that gets passed down through the generations. The House of Aharon indicates that anyone who comes from Aharon will also be a Kohein.

However, Torah and yiras Shamayim are not passed down as an inheritance. As it says in Pirkei Avos (2:7): Prepare yourself to learn Torah, because it is not an inheritance for you.

Teaching ninth grade always presented a challenge. No longer the seniors of the elementary school, becoming mature high school girls made for an awkward transition. Classes were also harder and many girls found their grades dropping compared to the previous year. While I liked to challenge my students, I also tried to tailor programs to fit each girl’s needs.

As the first semester drew to a close, I scheduled a meeting with each student to discuss her progress and make plans for the rest of the year. The meetings went well until it was Chani’s turn.

This concept is seen as well in Tehillim (135:19): “The House of Israel blesses Hashem; the House of Aharon blesses Hashem; the House of Levi blesses Hashem, those who fear Hashem bless Hashem.” Each group is called a “house” except for those who fear Hashem, since that category is not considered a “house.”

Chani sauntered into the room and slid into the chair facing mine. As I laid out her tests, projects, and homework, she seemed disinterested and even bored. Until I mentioned her final grade.

“A C? I can’t get a C! I’m an A student! I was salutatorian last year!”

“I believe that.” I pointed to an essay she had written at the beginning of the year. “You have tremendous potential and a quick grasp of the material. But you’re not following up on that potential.”

“It’s going to mess up my report card! Everything else will be A’s.”

As her homeroom teacher, I had more updated knowledge than she, but that wasn’t the point.

“So let’s make plans to avoid this in the future.” I picked up a test that was only half completed. “Let’s figure out how you can study better to ace the next test.”

But Chani was on a crusade and couldn’t be distracted. “I don’t need to study! I always get A’s! I am an A student! My whole family is on the honor roll.”

“And next term you can be as well. But you’re going to have to work for it. Honors are not handed out based on last names.”

In parshas Pinchas (27:16) it says: “Let Hashem appoint a leader over the nation.”

Moshe had just resolved the inheritance issue of the daughters of Tzelafchad. Therefore, he now asked Hashem, “Since the daughters of Tzelafchad merited getting their father’s portion, may my children merit inheriting my position?”

Hashem answered that Yehoshua would inherit Moshe’s portion, since he learned more Torah than they had. Torah is not inherited; therefore, every person in Klal Yisrael can merit the crown of Torah, even if he’s the son of an ignoramus.

Chani never did get my message. She failed my class and spent the entire year complaining about the injustice of the situation.

Remembering her, I turned to my son. “It’s not your name that’s spells success. It’s how you make a name for yourself.”

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 574)