I want to tell you a little about Parshat Shemot, which literally means "names," and which we just read this past Shabbat. And I want to tell you about my name, which is related to the Torah portion called Names. My Hebrew name is Tova Mishka. Tova means good, and Mishka, my middle name, is the feminine version of Moshe, meaning "drawn out of the water".

So what is a name? Are names important? Do names have meaning?

These powerful women teach me what it means to be a strong Jewish woman In Judaism, a person's Hebrew name is something that describes the deepest part of them. And when parents name their baby, it is the one time in their life that they are blessed with Divine Inspiration. So in Judaism, a person's name isn't random, but rather a person's name is what defines them. In short, names are important and they have great meaning. Also, a name is part of you. You fit into your name and your name fits you. You grow into your name and you become your name.

So my first name, Tova means good. Sounds simple enough. But what is good? Do we all have the same definition of good? And sometimes things happen and it seems impossible to see the good. What is really interesting, is that I was born on the Shabbat that followed Tisha B'Av. The greatest day of mourning of the Jewish people. Tisha B'Av was the day when the first and second Temple in Jerusalem were destroyed, and until today, many tragic events have fallen on that day. And yet, we learn that Tisha B'Av is the day that the Mashiach is born. And when the Mashiach comes, Tisha B'Av will no longer be a day of mourning, but one of great celebration. So even now, when we mourn, we know that the day represents the idea of hidden good and that the day will hopefully soon be one of revealed good.

So right after Tisha B'Av, I made my entrance into this world, and my mother revealed her hidden blessing – a bat (girl). I was born on Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of comfort, for following the day of mourning comes comfort. And my mother clearly was comforted by the birth of a daughter, a "bat".

What is a Bat Mitzvah? It is literally the "daughter of a mitzvah". Today is the day when I am considered an adult in Judaism. Before I was a kid. I wasn't responsible, but now I am.

There is another Bat that we read about in the Torah portion of Shemot. In this Parsha we learn about Bat Pharoah, who became Batya. Who was she? Bat Pharaoh was the daughter of King Pharoah. The Midrash teaches us that she wanted to convert to Judaism and went to the river to immerse herself and become a Jew. While there, she saw a basket, and pulled it out of the river, to discover baby Moshe in it. Moshe, who became the leader of the Jewish people, is the meaning of my middle name, Mishka. Bat Pharaoh was the one who saved his life. When she becomes Jewish, she is called Batya, meaning the daughter of G‑d.

Batya is not the only amazing woman we learn about in this parsha. We also have Miriam, Moshe's sister, and Yocheved, Moshe's mother, who were the first two women who did everything they could to save his life. It was little Miriam, who convinced her parents that they should try to have children, even after the decree was given that all male babies would be killed. She told them that by not having a baby, they were not only killing the boys but the girls as well. They decided she was right, and after that, had Moshe.

It was Yocheved, Moshe's mother, who came up with the plan to put him in the basket. She was a midwife, and helped many Jewish mothers give birth and refused to kill the baby boys, even though those were the orders.

As we know, Moshe was saved, and it was Miriam who followed him down the stream, and when he was discovered by Batya, who convinced her to let Yocheved nurse her own baby, by telling Batya that Yocheved was a wet nurse. So not only did these women save his life, but Yocheved was allowed to care for her own baby until he was weaned.

These powerful women teach me what it means not only to be a strong Jewish woman, but to be a real leader. A leader is someone who sticks to what she or he thinks is right even when no one else is doing it. Batya knew she wanted to be Jewish, even though she was raised with idols. Yocheved saved the lives of the baby boys, even though she could have been killed for going against the orders. And Miriam convinced her parents that they were wrong even though she was just a little girl. These are just a few of the role models that the Torah teaches us about.

So as I stand here today as a Bat Mitzvah, I hope to be able to show the strength in my character in doing what is right even if it isn't popular. And I hope that by always trying to do what is right, I will be able to reveal the good in myself and in those around me, the Tova of my name, and be a true leader, the Mishka of my name.