Dec 23, 2010

Rav Kanievsky On Names

Rav Chaim Kanievsky has a sense of humor!

Different rabbis become famous for different things they have expertise in. People flock to rabbi this for his knowledge in taharas hamishpacha issues, to rabbi that for his expertise in kashrus issues, and to rabbi the other for his expertise in determining of a persons name is spiritually appropriate or if it needs to be changed.

While some base there opinions on whether a persons name need be changed on kabbala and mysticism, i.e. they can see that the names do not fit the persons character, or this person should not marry a person with that name, others base their opinions on simpler, more straightforward, considerations.

Mynet has an article on Rav Chaim Kanievsky's recent opinions regarding people coming to him with name issues. Rav Kanievsky bases his opinion not on kabbala, but on Tana"kh. According to Rav Kanievsky, the only names a person should bear are names based in Tana"kh. Names that are made up are no good. Even names based in Tana"kh cannot be used if they are names of evil people. As well, a person should always use his Jewish name rather than a non-Jewish name.

Regarding names that are made up, Rav Kanievsky was asked about the name "Shira" for a baby born on Shabbos Shira. Rav Kanievsky responded "and if she was born on Shabbos Para would you name her "Para"???"


  1. What's Rav Kanievsky's first name?
    CHAIM is not a biblical name nor does it appear in the Talmud as far as I know. There is a medieval rabbi mentioned in tosafos with that name.

    I don't think his approach is being relayed accurately.

    Most of the rabbis in the Talmud did not have biblical names (e.g. Rabbi Akiva, Tarfon, Shamai, Ashi, Chiyya, Meir).
    Their wives didn't either (e.g. Yaltha the wife of R. Nachman).
    They didn't change their names to biblical names. The rabbis didn't necessarily name their children biblical names.

  2. there have been books written regarding the different types of names and customs surrounding the choosing of baby naming through different periods of Jewish history.

    Still, his comment, if true, regarding taking a word and using it as a name, like Shira, is very witty!

  3. That is weird. So if Shira isn't a legit name, why would Chaim be?

  4. Uch, now I understand why my brother's niece changed her name from "Meira" to "Shifra" at the age of 16. Ridiculous, and if true, really doesn't explain all of the names of the Gemara and Mishnah.

  5. Rav Kanievsky was asked about the name "Shira" for a baby born on Shabbos Shira. Rav Kanievsky responded "and if she was born on Shabbos Para would you name her "Para"???"

    LOL. Now I like R' Kanievsky more :-)

  6. FWIW at no point in Jewish history * have Jewish names been 100% biblical, In fact in general most Jews over the centuries have had much more assimilated names that most of us would like to admit. And Yes I have done the research on this one

    Check on the "Medieval names archive" on google.

    *Well post tanach history

  7. If you can call a boy "Ze'ev" why can't you call a girl "para"?

  8. did he say you cant or did he say you wouldnt? go ahead, Shimon, name your next daughter para.. lets see how much she appreciates it when she gets older.. :-)

  9. What about the edict to name children, ALEXANDER after Alexander the Great?


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