Names are significant all around the world. Parents dedicate time and research to give the appropriate name for their child ideally. But, in the Jewish culture, they have laws and customs to follow.
Significance of Names
There have been several accounts where parents carefully choose their child’s name throughout the Bible. And each name is mainly selected from the events that transpired during their birth.
For example, the twelve sons of Jacob had their names come from the situation of their births (Genesis 29:32). There are also exceptional cases where God provides for the child’s name, such as Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus.
Naming in the Jewish Culture
In the Jewish custom, Jewish people are encouraged to give their children Jewish names, for it is the hallmark of their identity. Translating the names into Hebrew is not necessarily Jewish. It comes from many languages, such as Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Latin, Greek, and Russian.
A baby boy is named after his brit milah or circumcision, eight days after he is born. Meanwhile, a baby girl is named at a Torah reading after her birth. Torah readings usually occur on Mondays, Thursdays, Shabbats or special holidays. Moreover, it is customary to name the child after their deceased parents.
Over the years, there have been different kinds of Jewish names. It may be Biblical names, Talmudic names, names from the animal world, names from nature, names that include God’s word, and names from the angels.
But, the sages of the Midrash (collection of Torah teachings) urge that “one should name one’s child after a righteous person, for sometimes the name influences the person’s behavior and destiny.”
Today, Jewish parents are encouraged to pick meaningful names that have been passed down for generations. And although some names are not particularly meaningful, there is no reason to change them unless a child is named after an evil person.
Reference: Chabad Org