Baby Naming

No Name
It is the custom that the baby does not receive his name until the Brit Milah. It is based on the fact that Abrams name was changed to Abraham in conjunction with his Brit Milah. Another reason is that an article can not be given a name until it is completed. The Zohar teaches us that a Brit raises man in his level of spirituality to a certain degree of completeness. Thus a baby can only receive his name after the Brit.

Jewish Name
The Sages have taught (Bamidbar Rabbah 20:22) that one of the merits the Jewish nation had in being redeemed from Egypt, was the fact that they kept there Jewish Names (Levi, Yehuda etc.). The Jewish Name accompanies the child as he ascends into adulthood. When he is called to the Torah on his Bar Mitzva, it is with this name. This name appears on his kesubah (wedding contract). During the Yizkor service, after 120, he is remembered with this name. So, the Jewish name follows the Jew his entire life, in this world and even the next.

After the Living
Many Sephardim have a custom of naming their child after the father or grandfather. This custom is considered a segulah (auspicious) for a long life. The Ashkenazim do not have this custom. One of the reasons given is quoted in Sefer Chassidim (§460). It states, “Although gentile parents name their children after themselves and no harm befalls them, Jews are very careful to refrain from this practice.”

Naming Rights
There are various opinions as to who has the right to choose the name of the child. According to many opinions, the father selects the name of the first child; the mother selects the name of the second child, and so on. According to other opinions, the mother starts off first. In situations of conflict or no established custom, it is understood that the couple should consult with their Rabbi.

Click here for a list of sample names.