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e Ar of Baby Naming
By Aaron Moss

Question of the Week:  

My wife has entered the seventh month of pregnancy, and we have started discussing names for our baby. She wants something traditional, but I want my child to be an individual and am thinking of something more exotic. What does Judaism have to say about name-giving?  


Choosing a name is a big deal. A person's name is not a mere label, it expresses the essence of its bearer. The letters that make up your name, its sound and its meaning are descriptions of your soul. Only a prophet has the vision and foresight to know which name fits the soul of your child.  

You are that prophet.  

Kabbalah teaches that parents are given temporary prophecy to choose the right name for their child. This flash of insight can come at any time, but when it does you just know you have got it right. A certain name suddenly grabs you or gradually grows on you. It is divine inspiration leading you to give the name that truly belongs to your child.  

For a Jewish soul, the name of the soul is in Hebrew. Hebrew is the original language, the holy tongue, the language which G-d used to create the world. Hebrew names have lofty meanings, and are multi-layered, so many people with the same name are still each unique, depending on which layer of meaning their soul expresses. And being called by your Hebrew name arouses the soul to be more manifest in your daily life.  

Look through the names of the great characters of Jewish history, or the names of grandparents who have passed away. If one of these names jump out at you, it may indicate that the child has a spark from that person's soul, or may even be their reincarnation, and will emulate the positive traits of that person. Souls tend to stay in the family, and a child named after a departed loved one will continue to carry their flame.  

Originality should not be a factor in choosing a name. Trying to be different to everyone else means basing your choice on everyone else. This can hardly be called individuality. But giving your child a Hebrew name that both you and your wife agree upon means giving a name that is true to your child's unique soul.  

Remember, you are not just naming a baby. You are also naming a teenager, an adult and a senior citizen. Today's cool names will be out of fashion by the time your baby starts teething. Hebrew names have stayed in vogue for 4000 years. Use your chance to be a prophet for a day, and choose a name that describes your baby's soul.  

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Moss

Posted on April 24, 2007
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