2016 here we come! We all have our minds focused on what we'd like the upcoming year to look like for ourselves, families and businesses. Tax returns, back to work, back to school.

As we refocus our goals and aspirations, it's always helpful to make sure that they are things that truly matter. Things that when we look back in 20 years, we'll be happy that we spent time on them. Our time is valuable. It should be primarily spent on things that are truly significant to us.

Significance can be attributed in two basic ways: from the outside in, and from the inside out. Many things in our lives serve us from the outside in. Our cars, phones, tablets, computers, sometimes even our homes. They all are things that we might have because they serve some specific purpose. If that purpose ceases to exist, well... look what happened to Blackberry. People seemed to stop needing them and, how many 15 year-olds even know what a Blackberry is? These are things that we relate to from the outside in. If they have any external benefits, great. If not, forget it.

Then there are those things in life that we connect with from the inside out. Your family for example. Your children are your children just because. It's not because your child got the best mark in her grade. It's because she's yours. Period. It's not because he scored the most runs on his little league team that you go to his games. It's because he's yours. Period. Same with your spouse. The connection there is from the inside. It's real. It's true. It's you.

Judaism is you too. We're not Jewish because it's the most convenient way to live, or the easiest or the cheapest. We're Jewish because that's simply what very Jew is at his or her very core. A beautiful Jewish soul. A beautiful soul whose core is a piece of God himself.

Every human being is special and precious. Every single human being is God's child. And being Jewish highlights that. Being Jewish is being charged with the mission to make sure the world is occupying itself with things that matter. Every Jew is a diamond.

But just being a diamond is not enough.

This week's Torah portions is called 'Shemot', literally 'names'. What is the significance of a Torah portion called 'names'? A name is a fundamentally external thing. The first part of you that someone encounters, when they still know the least about you, is your name. It's sort of the pinnacle of the outside-in parts of you that we were speaking of earlier. It's your job, your looks, your car, your phone. All those external things that people come across first when they meet you, but are quite far from who you really are.

The Torah is giving us a powerful message. True, you are a diamond. , Yes, your value is who you are, not what you do. Your inherent value is from the inside-out.

But our job is to take that inner beauty and holiness embedded in every one of us, and bring it into our names. Make who you really are evident in everything you do. Even those external things. Use your job, looks, car, phone, tablet or whatever you have to express that inner you. So when someone takes one look at you, even just knowing your 'name', they should see who you really are, what you stand for and what is truly important to you in life.

Rabbi Avrohom