NOTE: BEGINNING DECEMBER 2013, ALL NEW POSTS OF SERIOUS DIVREI TORAH WILL BE POSTED ONLY AT Beis Vaad L'Chachamim, beisvaad.blogspot.com


For private communication, write to eliezer(no space)e at aol

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Modern Hebrew Names for Children

Part three of a three part series on naming children.  Part one discussed the proper time to name a daughter; part two talked about the momentous spiritual significance of the parents' naming their child.  

This post is longer than usual.  The length results from dialogue with readers that I incorporated into the post.  As far as basic structure, it is very simple, as follows:
1. Are modern Hebrew names acceptable to our Gedolim.   (It goes without saying that Modern Orthodox authorities are in favor of these names.  I am focusing the group I consider myself part of, the Old world Yeshiva Orthodox, or what the  booboisie calls Hareidim or Ultra-Orthodox.)
2. The difference between modern Hebrew names and non-Jewish names.
3.  Harav Kanievsky's opinion
   a. Three explanations for this opinion
4.  Rav Moshe Feinstein's opinion
5.  English and Hebrew lists of Hebrew names, both traditional and modern.

*********************

May a parent give a child a modern Hebrew name, a name that has not been used before?  Or are we obliged to choose a name from Tanach or other long standing tradition?

This post does not address non-Hebrew names.  We discussed that here, where we reproduced and commented upon an article written by Dr. Steven Oppenheimer.  There is an obvious difference between modern Hebrew names which are clearly associated with the Jewish people, and non-Jewish names, which might be a sign of assimilation.  Right now we're focusing on non-traditional Hebrew names.

I titled this piece "Modern names for children" because I'm thinking of the name parents give a child- the name you use when you get an aliyah or the first name with which you identify yourself in a document.  Of course one can choose for himself a different name for other purposes.  Many people acquire or give themselves a name that is entirely unrelated to the name they were given at the bris/aliyah, even Jewish names that are different than their given name.  As the Medrash (קהלת רבה פ"ז) says, every person has three names; one that his parents give him, one that his associates give him, and one that is written in Heaven in his book of creation.
  "שלשה שמות נקראו לאדם. אחד שיקראו לו אביו ואמו אחד שקראו לו אחרים  ואחד שקרוי לו בספר תולדות ברייתו". 
But I am talking about what we think of as the "official" name.

Harav Chaim Kanievsky's opinion

Rav Chaim Kanievsky famously refuses to give a bracha to a person with a non-traditional name.  His adamant and strongly expressed opinion is documented in several books, including ויקרא שמו בישראל, and  שמות בארץ, and שמא גרים.  One very well known example of his position is his reaction to the name Shira.  When asked to give a bracha to a person with that name, his reaction is always the same- Shira is not a name, and the real name is Sarah.  Not only does he deny the validity of such names, but he says that names of modern coinage are null and void, and don't need to be changed to a proper name.  They don't exist.  All you need to do it choose an appropriate name.  He has told Shiras that their name is Sarah, he has told an Eliran that his name is Elchanan Eliahu, and he told a Zohar that his name is Meir.

This is how the author of Sheimos Ba'aretz quotes Reb Chaim.
האם נראה לכם שכדאי שבפרשת מצורע, נקרא לבננו בשם 'מצורע'? או שבפרשת  פרה נקרא לבת בשם 'פרה' ?", תהה מרן הגר"ח קניבסקי שליט"א, "ואם כן, מדוע בשבת שירה קוראים לבת 'שירה'?"ה... 
If you had a boy in the week of Parshas Metzora, would you name him "Metzora?" If you had a girl during Parshas Parah, would you name her "Parah?"  So why would someone call a girl born during the week of  Shabbas Shira "Shira?"
Rav Chaim holds that the only names that are valid are the names in Tanach or in Even Ezer siman 129.

Again from Reb Chaim: the gist of it is, as he is quoted saying, ' "והנה שמות שהמשוגעים המציאו, יש לבטלם לגמרי" which means that he disapproves of neologisms and wishes they would be completely eliminated.

 שאלו את הגר"ח מהו ההבדל בין השמות המודרניים, מכל השמות של האמוראים שנקראו בארמית, וכל נשות ישראל בכל הדורות נקראו בשמות באידיש, ומה ההבדל בין אידיש לעברית? וזאת ועוד, שהגמרא (יומא יא, ב) אומרת ששמותיהם של רוב היהודים בחו"ל הם משמות גויים, ורק על שמו של רשע מצאנו בגמרא (יומא לח, ב) שאין ראוי לקרוא על שמו? והשיב ע"כ הגר"ח קניבסקי: "שמות שמצאנו שכתוב בגמרא, שהתנאים והאמוראים נקראו בהם, אפשר לקוראם. אבל להוציא שמות חדשים, כמו שיש היום זה לא ראוי", והגר"ח הצביע על דברי המדרש שהבאנו לעיל. ועדיין דעתם של השואלים לא היתה נוחה מהענין והצביעו על כך שבדורות התנאים והאמוראים התחדשו כל הזמן שמות חדשים ובערי אשכנז היו קוראים תמיד בשמות חדשים, לפי השפה המדוברת, וגם בערי ארצות המזרח קראו היהודים לילדיהם בשמות מקומיים.  ועל כך השיב הגר"ח שליט"א: "מה שמצינו בדורות הקודמים שקראו מדעת עצמם, כנראה היה להם סיבות שקראו, ועל זה אין קושיה. אבל מה שבזמנינו קוראים שמות מדעת עצמם, אין לה ראוי לעשות. חז"ל אומרים לקרוא על שם אבותינו, ומה שהם קראו שמות אחרים, היתה להם סיבה אחרת. אבל סתם להמציא שמות, זה לא היה אף פעם ותמיד היה טעם לזה. כל השמות היו מאבותינו או מאבות אבותיהם, אבל לא מהגויים. היו שמות שהתחלפו מהגויים, אבל חלילה להמציא שמות". 


The first question everyone asks is "What about Rav Kanievsky's name, "Chaim?" Where do we find in Tanach or Shas that someone was named Chaim?

Reb Chaim was asked this question, and he answered that we find this name in a Teimani Medrash.  כמדומה באיזה ממדרשי תימן הקטנים .

However, we don't really know anything about the provenance of these Teimani Medrashim.  As Eli put it,
.....some of these Midrashim are actually compilations, ~1000 or less years old, so this could be as old as R. Chayim the Tosafist, or maybe even Rabbeinu Vidal of Toulouse (a.k.a. מגיד משנה).
Saint Vivian was a French bishop who lived during the Visigoth invasion of the 5th century. Around the same time, Flavius Vivianus was a consul of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Eli mentioned Rabbeinu Vidal and, lehavdil, Saint Vivian, because the names Vidal and Vivian both mean life, as does Chaim.  There are many names for Life- for women, this includes Chaya, Chava, Vita, Vida, and Zoe.

But Eli later wrote that he found a reliable source for the name "Chaim."
I found an earlier use of Chayim: the Sura Gaon Rav Tzamach bar Rav Chayim (d. 895 approx), probably pre-dates the unnamed midrash from Teiman.

I don't know for a fact why Rav Kanievsky feels so strongly about this issue.  When a parent names a child, the name is the product of love and deep emotion (especially the mother's,) and if he denies a parent's right to give voice to such intimate and deep feelings, I am sure that he has a good reason.   Nothing in this article should be misconstrued as disrespectful to Harav Kanievsky.  Anything he says would be at home in the Beis Medrash of Ravina and Rav Ashi.  I can only speculate and suggest possible explanations.

1.  The Medrash (Breishis 37:7) says that those generations that had Ruach HaKodesh would give their child a name that was informed by their destiny.  We, that do not have Ruach HaKodesh, just give names of our ancestors to our children.

"ולעבר יולד שני בנים שם האחד פלג כי בימיו נפלגה הארץ"    רבי יוסי ורשב"ג רבי יוסי אומר הראשונים על ידי שהיו מכירים את ייחוסיהם היו מוציאין שמן לשם המאורע אבל אנו שאין אנו מכירים את ייחוסינו אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו רשב"ג אומר הראשונים על ידי שהיו משתמשין ברוח הקודש היו מוציאין לשם המאורע אבל אנו שאין אנו משתמשין ברוח הקודש אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו א"ר יוסי בן חלפתא נביא גדול היה עבר שהוציא לשם המאורע הה"ד ולעבר יולד שני בנים וגו'
Perhaps, based on that Medrash, there are only those two options.  Either you have ruach hakodesh or you name after an ancestor.  No other option is valid.

2.  The Zohar and the Gemara in Yoma and the Rogotchover I've mentioned in the parts one and two of this series can be read to imply that a name influences a person's personality.  If so, one cannot risk making up a name, because he has no way of knowing what kind of influence this name will have.

3.  Perhaps HaRav Kanievsky holds like that because he feels that such names are a symptom of cultural anomie, like Latisha and Shaniqua and Shonda, and that he holds that the symptom aggravates the underlying problem, and that fighting the symptom will mitigate the problem.


Eli's comments here responding to these explanations need to be in the main body of the post:
1. I don't think the late 9th century Chayim is much more of a source than the 12th century R. Chayim. It only pre-dates the invention of the name (actually, the adoption of a Goyische name).
2. R.Ch.K saying modern coinages are null and void, and don't need to be changed is really nothing but strong rhetoric, as there is no formal process for changing a name, proper or not. The real test for his position would be if he would ignore a Get with a "null and void" name, or better, approve a Get with the "correct" Sara instead of the "null and void" Shira, before waiting 30 days as one should do for a regular name change. 
3. R. Yossi in Medrash cannot be used to support R.Ch.K. position, as we know for a fact names were invented much after R. Yossi's generation. All the sources for names affecting destiny are not strong enough against our Mesorah to invent names, and adopt Goyische names if they sound right. Ask Rabbi Bon.
4. Naming your son Shakil is not the same, in terms of Jewish identity, as naming him Tal or Zohar. I can see reasons to oppose the latter names, but based solely on לא שינו את שמם, using Zohar is much more distinctive than Yaacov (to be changed to Jacob in the workplace).
Regarding Eli's point 2, I should mention that Rabbi Meir Peikus just told me that when his son got married, the mesader kiddushin was Rav Aharon Shechter of Chaim Berlin.  They sat down to write the tna'im, and his mechutan told Rav Shechter that the Kallah's name was Ilana Rus.  Rav Shechter gave him a really hard time- Ilana is not a name!  What kind of name is Ilana?  Rabbi Peikus said that even if it is a taina, it's a taina that is twenty one years late.  They finally got Rav Shechter to move on by noting that at least her second name was Rus.
Regarding his fourth point, of course he's right.  A distinctive Hebrew name separates and identifies us as Jewish more than the common biblical names which are just as often used by non-Jews.  I would say that Reb Chaim views them as a product of Am Yisrael, not of Mesoras Yisrael- nationalistic rather than religious.  More importantly, and I think this is undeniably true, is that the tremendous increase in this kind of neologism since the advent of Zionism can be reasonably interpreted- in most cases- as a rejection of the Galus identity and an emphatic declaration (I would say asseveration) of the identity of "The New Jew."

Eli responded
I understand one can oppose modern names as a way to separate from modern Jews (religious and non-religious alike), or as demonstration of embracing the old-world as a reaction to the idea of the New Jew. לא שינו את שמם cannot be used as a source for that, only an inspiration.

Lest you, the reader, go away thinking that we're grasping at straws in suggesting a "movement" that wishes to recast Jewish identity, here are two illustrations of the idea of the creation of  the "New Jew."   Against this background, Harav Kanievsky's opinion becomes more understandable.

From the World Zionist Organization website:
For some Zionists, especially the East European Jewish intellectuals, Zionism was not only a national movement committed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland. It also wished to create a modern, secular Jewish identity. According to this formulation it was not religion that was to provide the basis for Jewish identity but ethnicity and nationalism. The Hebrew language, the land of Israel, Jewish history, literature, customs, folklore and their interplay were to provide a new more open-ended paradigm for Jewish identity.
From historian Rabbi Ken Spiro's essay on Modern Zionism:
The key factor which shaped their [secular Zionist thinkers] worldview was a nationalism based not only on the notion of creating a physical Jewish homeland, but also of creating a new kind of Jew to build and maintain this homeland. Many of these early Zionist thinkers felt that centuries of ghettoization and persecution had robbed the Jews of their pride and strength. To build a homeland required a proud, self-sufficient Jew: a Jew who could farm, defend himself, and build the land.The pious, poor, ghettoized Jew—who presented a pathetic image of a man stooped-over and always at the mercy of his persecutors—had to be done away with. To build a state required something all-together different—a “Hebrew.” The early Zionists called themselves “Hebrews” and not Jews, and deliberately changed their German or Russian or Yiddish names to sound more Hebraic and nationalistic (for example, David Gruen became David Ben-Gurion. Shimon Persky became Shimon Perez). It was a deliberate attempt to create a totally new Jewish identity and rid themselves of any aspect of the religious, Diaspora Jewish identity…These early Zionist leaders knew of course that religion had preserved Jewish identity in the ghettos and shtetls of Europe, but in the modern Jewish state, they felt there would be no need for it. Of course the Bible would be used as a source of Jewish history and culture but there was no room for religion or ritual in the modern Jewish state.

I would only add that not everyone that names their daughter Shira intends a militant rejection of tradition.  One of my daughters in law is a Shira, and her parents are fine upstanding Lakewood people.  My niece's name is Yonit and her fathers for at least four generations back have been roshei yeshiva.  Rav Gifter named his daughter Shlomis to celebrate the end of WW II, and not after Ms. Divri.  I think this is an Eretz Yisrael thing, a land where everything becomes political and polarized.  If you need a bracha for someone that has a modern name, go to someone other than HaRav Kanievsky.

And let us emphasize

Reb Moshe Feinstein's opinion 

Although we began with Harav Kanievsky's opinion, most communities follow Reb Moshe Feinstein's much milder approach.

His Teshuvos on this issue are in EH 3:35OC 4:66, and OC 5:10. The gist of what he says is that lechatchila, a name should reflect our Jewish heritage.  Non-Jewish names are very inappropriate and would never be approved of by Gedolei Yisrael.   
 עצם הדבר שמשנים את שמותיהם לשמות נכרים וודאי הוא דבר מגונה מאוד .... אבל איסור ממש לא מצינו בזה   Reb Moshe does not say that it had no validity as a name for the first person that had it, just that it was wrong for the person that named him to give a non-Jewish name.  Furthermore, once a person was given such a name, it becomes kosher for his or her descendants, because that person's children should honor and perpetuate the original bearer of the name.  

He proposes that the value of לא שינו was only when that was the only flag of identity, which wouldn't apply after Mattan Torah, because now the Taryag mitzvos adequately distinguish us, but he says he is not sure that this rationale is reliable le'halacha.  He therefore strongly discourages giving names that are not part of the Jewish heritage.

Reb Moshe does not even address modern Hebrew names.  He only talks about the legitimacy and appropriateness of non-Jewish names, but his criticisms of non-Jewish names would not apply to modern Hebrew names.

On the other hand, when Reb Moshe's daughter in law wanted to name her daughter Aviva, after an Avraham, Reb Moshe said that Aviva doesn't make any sense.  It's not a word- it's either Aviv or it doesn't mean anything.  So he said that if you want to name a girl after an Avraham, you should name her Ahuva, because the Hei is the most important letter.

Along those lines, I also would add that, as I mention in the comments, I have a very hard time with feminized theophoric names.  For example: Gavriel is a compound word comprising Gevura and El, Strength and God.  El is God.  God is expressed in the male gender.  To call someone Gavrielah is a gender change which , in my opinion, is bizarre and grotesque.  I don't buy the explanation that the name is given to remember a person named Gavriel.  One must remember the original source of the name, and not do violence to its meaning.



An Afterword

Finally, I want to put in a comment that someone wrote in when I posted this in an earlier form.  I'm putting it in here mostly because I like the forthright manner and the tone of his comment.  I don't necessarily agree that his point applies to all of our sub-groups, but it's a shrewd observation.  


shimonmatisyahu said...Look, as per some of the past comments, I don't know when the name Shira began being used. But what I do know, such as with my ancestry, while the boys were given regular one or two Hebrew names, the girls were thrown some Yiddish sounding word as a name that really had no meaning to it. Another difference of naming between genders that I have seen is that tons of girls are named Chava, but it is rare to find a guy in the frum world with the name Odom, because "it is not a name of a Yid". So another words, since females aren't looked upon as holy as males, it is OK to call them Chava even if the first Chava wasn't Jewish, but a "Ben Torah" should not be given the "goyishe" name Odom.
Basically, what he saying is that while a boy's name is given serious thought, because he embodies the family's honor and he needs to present a public image of authority and strength, some people name daughters like they name their pets.


Lists of Modern Hebrew Names

A very nice list in English is available here.  This list is a section of a massive collection of names from many cultures and nationalities.  A similar list in Hebrew, which includes and labels both modern and traditional names, is available here.

28 comments:

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

In response to the comment at the end of the post: The Mabit writes in Teshuvos (siman 276) that one should only give names used from the time of Avorhom Avinu and on. However, see טעמא דקרא to Parshas Noach by Rav Chaim Kanievsky where cites a slew of examples in Chazal not like this.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

I think the correct link is here: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49911&st=%D7%90%D7%93%D7%9D&pgnum=13&

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thank you, Chaim HaQ.

The page in Reb Chaim Kanievsky's sefer mentioned in your comment can be viewed here:
http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49911&st=&pgnum=13&hilite=

The comment I inserted was mostly complaining about how for men we're makpid on honorable names from after Noach, while many women were given silly and infantile names. This certainly was not true among the Litvishe, but maybe it is the case among other sub groups.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Thanks. I was patchke'ing with the HTML so I could just have a colored hyperlink, but I lost patience.

By the way, for people who haven't read Reb Chaim's sefarim, that link is an opportunity to get a glimpse of what he is like. Agree with him, or disagree, but remember that he is a living and fully integrated Sefer Torah, and unless you have a strong mesora or another gadol on your side, no matter who you are it is most likely like a fly against an elephant.

Eli said...

1. I don't think the late 9th century Chayim is much more of a source than the 12th century R. Chayim. It only pre-dates the invention of the name (actually, the adoption of a Goyische name).

2. R.Ch.K saying modern coinage are null and void, and don't need to be changed is really nothing but a strong rhetorics, as there is no formal process for changing a name, proper or not. The real test for his position would be if if would ignore a Get with a "null and void" name, or better, approve a Get with the "correct" Sara instead of the "null and void" Shira, before waiting 30 days as one should do for a regular name change.

3. R. Yossi in Medrash cannot be used to support R.Ch.K. position, as we know for a fact names were invented much after R. Yossi's generation. All the sources for names affecting destiny are not strong enough against our Mesorah to invent names, and adopt Goyische names if they sound right. Ask Rabbi Bon.

4. Naming your son Shakil is not the same, in terms of Jewish identity, as naming him Tal or Zohar. I can see reasons to oppose the latter names, but based solely on לא שינו את שמם, using Zohar is much more distinctive than Yaacov (to be changed to Jacob in the workplace).

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Eli- I put your comments into the post, and respond to the fourth there.

Eli said...

I understand one can oppose modern names as a way to separate from modern Jews (religious and non-religious alike), or as demonstration of embracing the old-world as a reaction to the idea of the New Jew. לא שינו את שמם cannot be used as a source for that, only an inspiration.

great Unknown said...

I wonder where the cutoff is; i.e., the chasimas haShaimos.

I also wonder what would happen if a woman named Georgina would ask for a bracha.

Personally, I am not affected: Great is a name with a long mesorah, e.g., the Gadol of Minsk.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

I don't know what you mean by Georgina. The only Georgina I know is what they called Dahlias in Litteh.

Speaking of the Gadol of Minsk, you ever notice how the Alter became "הסבא מסלובודקה" instead of הזקן? Whose idea was that???

Eli said...

Regarding Georgina, the problem is one would have been inclined to change the name into Daliah, which was used in der Alteh Heim. However, the Sheimos Baaretz refers to דליה, saying clearly "לא שמענו שם כזה", so maybe Georgina is better.

I've seen usage of "הסבא מסלבודקה" by his talmidim since (at least) the 1920s.

Eli said...

And a bit more about consistency in שמות בארץ. The feminine name יוספה is kosher, as explained there - הוא ע"ש יוסף והחליפוהו לנקבה. However, גבריאלה is something else altogether, null and void. The reason is המשוגעים עשו מגבריאל גבריאלה.

If you wonder how come יוספה passed the bar, note that RChK's cousin, daughter of R. Shmuel Greineman, is named Yosefa (probably approved by the Chason Ish). Similarly, the name בת ציון (Reb Beinish Finkels' daughter) was suggested by the Chason Ish (she was born in EY while her father was in the US). So the question is not when was chasimas haShaimos, but rather who is Samuch איש מפי איש עד אדה"ר to create new names, as the Gmara says יורה יורה, ידין ידין, ייתן שמות לא ייתן.

great Unknown said...

FYI, Georgina is the name of the mother of HRH"G Chacham Ovadiah Yosef.

Eli said...

גוּרְגִ'יָה

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Eli- you wrote "The feminine name יוספה is kosher, as explained there - הוא ע"ש יוסף והחליפוהו לנקבה. However, גבריאלה is something else altogether, null and void. The reason is המשוגעים עשו מגבריאל גבריאלה."

It seems to me that changing the gender of theophoric names is kind of משוגע whether you agree with Harav Kanievsky or not.

Eli said...

I agree. Obviously, the parents of Gavriela wanted to commemorate some Gavriel they knew, not האיש גבריאל that Daniyel saw.

Anyway, the logic used in שמות בארץ goes the other direction. They are not Meshugaim because they use such a name. The name is unacceptable because they are Meshugaim to begin with. I now see the same Meshugaim card is used for ישראלה, and there the author does point out to the Yoesepha precedence, and answers מה שנהגו אבותינו נהגו ואין להוסיף עליהם.

Needless to say, the oldest גבריאלה (I could track) was named ~150 years ago. There is no base whatsoever to the claim that מנהג אבותינו regarding יוספה is in any way older than that. Unless of course you take into account that whatever was not used in one's close circle does not exist.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

דרך אגב since someone mentioned her, the oilam should know that Bat-Zion Carlebach (Rav Beinish Finkel's daughter) is a huge tzadaikes and baalas chesed and the entire existence of the Mir Yeshiva right now is because of her. I personally also owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Eli said...

a late sidenote - the origin of Yosef is אסף ד' את חרפתי and יוסף ד' לי בן אחר. Accordingly, Yosef is a verb in masculine form. Do we mean that when we name someone Yosef now? not really. Is Yosepha more or less bizarre than Gavriella? A bit less, had they used Toseph it was worse.

I learned from http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9105&st=&pgnum=491
two things (a) naming girls after men was rather common שדרך ליתן לנקבות שם אחרי הזכרים אם נצרכים לכך (b) butchering names, ignoring original meaning was also common (see throughout the Kuntres, e.g. יודת as a female name after יהודה, or עציא after איצא=יצחק).

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Eli, that's why I liked the comment Shimonmatisyahu sent. I think that to some extent he's right- there was a time when a man's name was given serious thought, and a woman's name far less so- call her whatever you want, it's not like she's going to get an aliya, and she won't have her name on business cards either.

But you're right. Clearly, names were modified without any concern about the effect on the underlying meaning. I still think that this is something a learned person would not allow in his family, but, as Reb Moshe says, once the name is in the family, it acquires meaning of its own.

My mother told me that one thing that she's learned is that when you inquire about a shidduch, you should check the names of the other person's family, because you might end up with a Rasha (Ita's daughter) or a Sheftel Yekusiel (Mordechai's son).

Perhaps you remember that a long, long time ago, I thought a certain person's name was Roitle, when in fact her name was Ravital.

Eli said...

As you can see in the AH there, masculine names were also modified. Actually, this works both ways, once one accepts butchered names, you can butcher your grandparent's name to your like. For example, the AH says Koshka (I thought it's a cat in Russian (?)) stands for Yekusiel, if Mordechai would have known on time.

To the defense of our forefathers, I must add that there are not that many good feminine names (biblical or from Chazal, good connotation, sound good, not too unique). I have two daughters BH, and it wasn't easy. Who knows, maybe if I had nine like my cousin, I would have resorted to Kreindel.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

We were trying to figure out what nickname we could use for Sheftel Yekusiel. Kusi didn't last long, of course, Yook is not even in the parsha, and Shefty sounds odd. When I saw the AH, I suggested Kishke. They decided that maybe they should just call him Sheftel.

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

Once we are discussiing male and female names:
Divrei Malkiel (Vol. 3, Siman 75) writes that it is assur to give a give a man a woman's name and vice versa. However, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky in Taama D'Kra (starting here) offers more than 60 examples in Chazal where we see such a thing.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

The Divrei Malkiel can be found here:
http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=804&pgnum=103

The relevant part of the Teshuva is at the end. It reminds me of something Rabbi Benjamin Shandalov of the CRC told me. He attended a kashrus conference, and the room assignment board said that his roommate was someone named Shimmy. When he walked into his room, he was able to immediately discern that contrary to the organizer's assumption, this Shimmy was a woman.

Regarding Harav Kanievsky's list of gender neutral names, I have to say that number 53 is not very convincing.
פרידא, ר' פרידא עירובין נ"ד: ובכ"ד, ובשמות גיטין של הפ"ת שם אשה פרידא
First of all, there's more than one thousand years separating the two, and the usage cannot be compared at all. Second, I think the פרידא the אמורא is pronounced Preida, and the woman's name is Frieda. Big difference.

Most of the others are convincing, though. I know Zissels and Yonahs of both kinds.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

I have to mention that HK himself says out that some of the matches are not proof.
ואף שבהרבה מהם יש לדחות כמובן [שיש שהנקודות משתנוח ויש שנקרא ע״ש אמו וגם אפשר שבשם של גוי אין קפידא] מ״מ ברובן נראה שלא חשו לזה.

Eli said...

Apropos names for daughters - just saw incidentally Chida's daughter was named Klara. R. Chayim Vital's daughter, Angela.

Avraham said...

Hi Rav Eisenberg,

Thanks for the great posts on shemmot. Can I ask you whether you have heard or know of any teshuvos in relation to the name Rochel? I have been told that it is not a good name to call a girl as it represents a very difficult and sad life (albeit that it turns out good in the end). Would love to know your thoughts or any sources

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

Hi, Avraham.

What you heard is what is said in the name of the Ari Zal, but it is not the whole story. What he said was that if a person needs a name change, for kabbalistic reasons the name Rachel is not the best choice for bringing about a change from bad mazal to good mazal. But he never said that one should not name a child Rachel. As one of the Imahos, she represents spiritual perfection, and Rachel specifically is referred to as the paradigm of a woman's prayer. Having her name is a zechus equal to any of the other Imahos. This distinction is brought, for example, in the Sefer Keter Shem Tov, part I page 306 and part II section 29, where he also says that the Arizal never said and never meant that a father should hesitate to call his daughter the Rachel.

Although Rachel is the only one of the Imahos that does not contain the letter Hei, her son, Yosef, who saved all of Klal Yisrael in the years of famine, is called Yehosef, and through his extra Hei Rachel was perfected.

Reb Moshe Feinstein's grandson and closest talmid named one of his daughters Rachel, and I am sure that he consulted with his grandfather before naming her, as my wife and all his grandchildren did when naming their children.

Barzilai/Eliezer Eisenberg said...

By the way, the Keter Shem Tov is a anthology of quotations from the Baal Shem Tov written by Reb Aharon HaKohen of Zhelikhov and based on the writings of Reb Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye, a student of the Baal Shem Tov.

Avraham said...

Thank you very much for the response. Much appreciated.