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The importance of a jewish name

Names are considered very significant in Judaism. The sages of the Midrash recommend that “one should name one’s child after a righteous person, for sometimes the name influences the person’s behavior and destiny.”

As such, Jewish parents have always searched for positive names to give their children, often naming after deceased relatives
and righteous scholars.
Rabbi Yeudah HaChassid (1150-1217) writes that a righteous person’s deeds affect all who are given his name. And naming after one’s parents is a form of honoring them.
Over the generations there have been several types of Jewish names, following are a few examples of Jewish namesand their meaning.

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1) Biblical names such as Abraham, Yitzchac, Sarah, Leah, Rachel, Etc.
2) Talmudic names, Yochanan, Hillel, Shamai, Matityahu, Shimona, etc.
3) Names from the animal world i.e. Aryeh-Lion, Dov-Bear, Ariella-Lioness, Devorah-Bee, Tziporah-Bird, etc.
4) Names from nature; Barak-lightning, Shoshana-rose, Aviva-spring, Tal-dew, etc.
5) Names that include Gd’s name i.e. Yonathan-God given; Eliezer- God’s my help; Taliah-dew from God,
Elisheva- sworn to God, etc.
6) Names of angels; Michael/a- who is like God; Gavriel/a- mighty God, Rafael/a- healing God, etc.
Then there are the many derivatives and nicknames based on these names.
Parents have also named their children in honor of major life events. However, according to the sages in the
Midrash, this practice was appropriate only in biblical times. ” Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel said: In the old days,
they knew how to use the spirit of prophecy, and therefore they created names after events. We, however, do not
know how to use the spirit of prophecy; therefore, we give names after our ancestors”. (Bereshit Rabbah 37:7)
These days, we are encouraged to choose meaningful names that have been passed down for generations. But even if
a name is not particularly meaningful, there is no reason to change it unless a person was named after someone
wicked. (Avshalom, Nimrod, Haman, Vashti, Zeresh, etc.)

Jewish boys are named during their Brit Milah, and Jewish girls are named at a synagogue during Torah reading,
following their birth. The Jewish name given at that time remains with the person for the rest of his or her life. And
while one may also have a secular name, it is preferable to use one’s Jewish name whenever possible.
Jewish names come from many languages—Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Latin, Greek, Russian, etc. It is not
necessary to translate the name into Hebrew for it to be considered a Jewish name.
Interesting Details:
 Traditionally, Jews name their children after relatives or holy people. Sephardic Jews will name a
child after a living ancestor; however, Ashkenazic Jews would only name a baby after a deceased
relative. Click here for more details.
 Never got a Jewish name? Select a Jewish name that resonates with you. Often, people choose
a name that is similar in sound and/or in meaning to their non-Jewish name, contact your local
rabbi or find a local Chabad center by clicking here.
 When we pray for someone, we have in mind that person’s Jewish name and that of his or her
mother. But when we call a man for an aliyah to the Torah, we use his Jewish name and that of
his father.
 A change in name can result in a change of fortune. That’s why, if someone is dangerously ill, we
might provide him an additional name such as Chayim- life.

Finally, your Jewish name is the channel by which life reaches your Neshamah (soul) from Above. In fact, the
Kabbalists say that when parents name a child, they experience a minor prophecy—because, somehow, that child’s
destiny is wrapped up in the Hebrew letters that make up his or her name.

Find more inspiration about jewish names here.

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