Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayetze
To dedicate this lesson

Mazal Tov! who gets to name the baby?


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Our Sedra includes the birth of 12 of Yakov’s children (Binyamin will be born in Parshat Vayishlach). When are children named, & by whom? A boy is named at the brit, but if it’s delayed, some permit an earlier naming at a Torah reading, especially if there is a desire to pray for the child's health. A girl is named at a Torah reading, either right away or when a larger gathering can be held. While our sedra clearly indicates that the mother names the child (Yakov named only one of his 13 children!) there are different customs as to who has the right to choose the name; some suggest alternating between the mother & father, but certainly both must agree on the choice so there is no friction between husband & wife. Ashkenazim do not name for living relatives; Sefardim do. While generally we do not name a child after someone who had a tragic or premature death, if it was a case of Kiddush Hashem (e.g. one who died the Shoa, in IDF combat, etc) then it is a merit to do so.
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