The uncomfortable situation of having to repeat one’s Jewish name again and again is one that is very familiar to a lot of people living outside of Israel. The solution for a number of people has been to give their children a secular name that they go by and a secondary Hebrew name. Many will give Hebrew equivalents to the secular name. For many children, their Hebrew names are a source of embarrassment, something they’d rather not mention and indeed, in some cases, it is barely recalled after the day their parents bestowed it upon them.
Well, Shakespeare’s take, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, seems to view names as quite arbitrary. The Jewish take on names begs to differ. The Jewish approach Adam was the one to assign names to the animals populating the world and whatever he chose remained its name (Genesis 2:19). The names chosen by Adam were far from random. He named the animals in such a way that their titles reflected their inner essence. For example, the donkey was called “chamor” and it is not surprising to learn that the name for material goods that the donkey transports is “chomer”.
This too, is the way with peoples’ names in Judaism. They reflect a person’s inner essence. The sixteenth century Kabbalist, the Arizal, believed that one’s name and its numerical value communicates the very nature of the person. A look at the Hebrew word for soul, “neshama” is very telling- it contains within it the word “shem” meaning name proving the strong link between one’s soul and name.
Through understanding one’s Jewish name one learns of one’s very essence. If one is named after a Biblical character, it is interesting to note whether some of the struggles they faced are struggles we face on our own personal level. When a Jew is called up in Synagogue to the Torah, his Hebrew name is used, reminding him of his very essence.
It is believed that when parents name a child they have Divine guidance. Judaism does not believe in happenstance and each person receives his name for a reason. Having said that, there are certain names, such as names of unsavory Biblical characters that are not seen as fitting and therefore people who discover that their Hebrew name is, to say the least, unflattering will often opt to change it.
Jewish names are one of the four factors that allowed us to merit redemption from Egypt-the fact that the Jewish people used their Jewish names with pride and refused to assimilate into Egyptian culture saved them when they were wallowing in the forty-ninth level of impurity.
Wearing a fashionable Hebrew Name Necklace can be the perfect way to express your pride in your unique Jewish name. Treat yourself or significant others to a beautiful necklace that is both striking and meaningful.