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How to change a name?

Rabbi Yoel LiebermanTammuz 16, 5771
303
Question
Shalom In honour all the Yeshiva Rabbi’s Will a change in name combined with a committment to do teshuva, annul a bad decree/ evil eye/ and an unwarranted curse (possibly by an abusive parent). Which prayer would be appropriate for the change in name would it be 1.the mi-sheberach prayer 2.prayer for the sick/ for the sick 3.prayer for the sick/ for the healthy. If none of these, then how do i change my name? Humbly and thank you rachel
Answer
Dear Rachel, At any time a commitment to do teshuva is beneficial and a good thing to do. There is no reason to assume that you were cursed. Many people go through a patch of troubles in their lives. These times are a part of many trials which Hashem puts us through throughout our lives for His reasons. The Rabbis have said that Hashem puts a person through a trial only if the person can endure the trial. Furthermore, our Rabbis in the Talmud (Makkot 11a) quote the verse in Mishle (Proverbs 26:2) which says that an unwarranted curse has no effect. This was learned in an very interesting manner. The torah teaches us that when a person accidentally kills someone he must go to a city of refuge and remain there until the Cohen Gadol dies. It is told in the Talmud that the mothers of the Cohen would make food for the person in refuge so that he would not pray for a premature death of the Cohen. But! The Talmud asks: So what if he prays?! It's an unwarranted curse and they are not heeded to by G-d. The Talmud in this particular case says that the curse is not unwarranted since the Cohen has an overall obligation to beg for mercy for his generation so that such troubles should not occur. Since he failed in this task he is liable. In an a case where the curse is unwarranted, the curse doesn't come as we have said. There is also another explanation about an unwarranted curse. Not only does it not affect the cursed person but it comes back as a boomerang to the person who cursed. (Even Ezra to Mishle 26:2) From what you described I see no justification for changing of your name, which is prescribed only in case of extreme illness. (See Shulchan Aruch Yore De'ah 335:10). However, you are right that changing of the name can alter a bad decree which may have been passed against a person as it states in the Talmud in Rosh Hashana (16b). I tend in this case to adopt the interpretation of the Rambam about changing one's name. The Rambam rules (Hilchot Teshuvah 2:4) that as part of the process of doing Teshuvah one should change their name, meaning, to declare that he is now a different person and not the one who has some wrong doings to deal with. I believe having a more positive perspective can already begin the above described name change. With Torah blessings. Besorot Tovot
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