Great people are not afraid to put their name behind their convictions. “And Calev quieted the people for Moshe and said, ‘We will rise and rise and inherit the land, as we can surely do it’” (13:30). Those of lesser quality prefer to hide behind the cloak of anonymity. “And the people who were with him said, ‘We will not be able to go up’”. It is easy to criticize, complain and condemn; as long as one can hide behind others, it is not “me” but rather “they” who will be blamed should things go wrong. It takes courage to stand up and do the same thing publicly.
Man has an innate desire to make a name for himself. The fear of being forgotten is a fear that grips us all. For many, this serves as a key stimulus to have children (and in many cultures, specifically male children) who will carry on the family legacy. This desire not to be forgotten motivates some to write books, some to build monuments and even some to enter public life, hoping to attain some measure of immortality.
What's in a name? Clearly, names played an important role to our Biblical ancestors. The names of Chava, Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov and his children, and Moshe--to name just a few--reflect the circumstances of their birth, or a vision for their role in the future. We all know that people love hearing their name called, as it makes them feel important. Hence, common courtesy is to address people by their names instead of referring to "them".
Sefer Shemot, literally, “book of names”, seems to be a misnomer for our Parsha. (Rabbinic writings often refer to it as “book of redemption".) While the Torah lists the names of the 12 sons of Jacob who came to Egypt with their families, the Jewish people quickly became a nameless and faceless people; something that, in all likelihood, contributed to their eventual slavery. While numerous, there were apparently no outstanding leaders worthy of mention.