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New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names

Edgar R. Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">New light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names* EDGAR R. SAMUEL In 1932 the Central Conference of American Rabbis published a learned and comprehen? sive article by Rabbi J. Z. Lauterbach entitled, 'The Naming of Children in Jewish Folklore, Ritual and Practice'. There are four reasons why I feel justified in reopening the subject. First, since 1932 Pro? fessor Gershom Scholem's achievement in unravelling the tangled history of Jewish mysticism has changed the historical perspec? tive.1 Secondly, I think I can add some more information concerning Sephardi naming cus? toms. Thirdly, naming a posthumous son after his father deserves attention as a distinct custom. Finally, it now seems possible to trace the history of the Ashkenazi custom of 'naming after the dead' back a little further towards its source. SACRED AND SECULAR NAMES Our problem is to discover and describe each of the principal customs governing the choice of Jewish children's names and then to try to discern the ideas which underlie them and trace their origins and history. One person cannot hope to complete such a task and I can only claim to have done a small part of it. In the words of Rabbi Tarphon, 'It is not our duty to complete the work and we are not free to desist from it' (Pirke Abot ii, 21). Shortly after birth every Jewish child is normally given a Hebrew name, known as the E^P- ^? or sacred name, which is used for all religious purposes. This may be his or her only name, or he may also bear an equivalent or different name in another language which is used for secular purposes. In modern English-speaking countries it is very usual for Jewish children, particularly boys, to be given English names which are barely reminiscent of their Hebrew names: Alan for Abraham, Irving or Isadore for Isaac, Morris for Moses, Arnold for Aaron, and so forth?or, as in my own case, the two names may have no connection with each other at all. My Hebrew name is Aaron?after my mother's father. My English names?Edgar and Roy? are those of two relatives (a cousin of my father, and a maternal uncle), who were killed in action in Flanders in 1916 and 1917. The custom of bearing an equivalent name? or Kinnui?is very old. There was a High Priest in Jerusalem in Hellenistic times named 'Jason', whose real Hebrew name was 'Joshua',2 and each of the five sons of Mattathias the Hasmonean bore a second name as well as his Hebrew one, of which the best remembered is Judah's name 'Maccabeus'.3 But we shall have to ignore secular names and also surnames and concentrate our atten? tion upon the Hebrew 'sacred names' and the rules which determine their selection. TRADITIONAL RULES These rules are not based upon any obvious Jewish religious law or principle, but upon deeply entrenched traditions going back for many centuries, whose raison d'etre has largely been forgotten. It is our purpose to examine these traditions and to try to discover and understand their origins. Because this subject is a complex one, I * Paper delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 4 March 1970. 1 G. G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (Thames &amp; Hudson, London, 1946 and 1955). 2Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XII, 5, 1. 3 Ibid., XII, 6, 1. There is a homily in the Midrash Rabbah which strongly suggests that in Tannaitic times most Jews bore a second equivalent name: ns&gt;oi IV Tipw irwi onrw wnpw inai i?ki limn rvn*?n 'It has been taught: A man is called by three names: one which his father and mother call him, a second which others call him; and a third by which he is designated in the book of the generations of his creations'. Koheleth Rabbah, VII, 3. I am grateful to Rabbi S. Sperber for drawing my attention to this reference. 64</page><page sequence="2">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 65 propose to deal with naming customs in the following order, which is roughly chronological. 1. Sephardi customs and naming in a fixed pattern. 2. Naming after an uncle. 3. Naming after a grandfather. 4. Naming after the great. 5. Naming after a father. 6. Naming after the day of birth. 7. Change of name to avert death. 8. Ashkenazi customs. 9. Naming after the dead. 1. Sephardi Customs and Naming in a fixed pattern. The custom of the Portuguese Jews of Amsterdam, London, and other Western cities is as follows: (1) Children are named after their fore? bears. (2) The pattern of choosing names is rigidly prescribed. The first son is named after his paternal grandfather. The second son is named after his maternal grandfather. The third son is named after his paternal great-grandfather. The fourth son is named after his maternal great-grandfather. [TABLE A] Israel Ricardo David Daughters are similarly named after their grandmothers and great-grandmothers.4 (3) Where the custom obliges both parent and child to take the name of the same ancestor, they will share the same name. It is quite common for a son to be given the same name as his father (or daughter as her mother)? which, as we shall see, is quite contrary to the custom of Ashkenazi Jews. (4) A posthumous son is named after his father, or daughter after her mother. (5) The younger children are sometimes named after their other uncles and aunts. [See Table A, below] There is no objection to giving a child the same name as that of a living forebear. For example, Abraham and Abigail Ricardo, the parents of David Ricardo, the famous nine? teenth-century economist, had two children who bore their own names, Abraham and Abigail, but only because the boy was named after his maternal grandfather and the girl after her maternal great-grandfather. The custom of naming the first son and daughter after their paternal grandparents and the second son and daughter after their maternal grandparents is to be found among all sorts of Jews of Spanish descent, whether in the Balkans,5 Morocco,6 Portugal, Amsterdam, or London. It is even followed by the 'Chuetas' of Palma, Majorca, who are members of the Roman Catholic Church and who, although of Delvalle Isaac = Abigail Joseph = Hannah I Abraham = 1769 Abraham = Rebecca I Abigail Joseph David Isaac Rebecca Abraham Hannah Moses Abigail Seven others Jacob 4 I discovered this custom for myself in the course of studying eighteenth-century English Sephardi pedigrees. It seems to have died out among London Sephardim during the nineteenth century, but Miss S. Ricardo tells me that it was adhered to among the Sephardi Jews of Amsterdam right up to the destruction of their community by the Nazis in the 1940s. 5 I am grateful to the Very Rev. Haham Dr. S. Gaon for this information. 61 am grateful to Mr. Jacques Soussan for this information.</page><page sequence="3">66 Edgar R. Samuel Jewish descent, are believed to have no surviv? ing Jewish religious tradition.7 The custom is an old one. It is mentioned twice in the writings of Rabbi Moses ben Nahman (Nahmanides), who lived from 1194 to 1270. First, when he cites and rejects the opinion of another Rabbi, David Kimhi (1160? 1235), who sought to give the custom the au? thority of Scriptural law by attaching it to a passage in Genesis (xxxviii, 2-5). The verse concerns the birth of the sons of Judah, whom Spanish Jews regard as their male line ancestor. It reads as follows: 'And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her; and she conceived and bare a son; and he called his name Er, and she conceived again and bare a son, and she called his name Onan and she yet again conceived, and bare a son and she called his name Shelah, and he was at Chezib when she bore him.' CUSTOM OF THE PATRIARCHS R. David Kimhi argues that the third son, Shelah, was named by his mother simply because Judah was away from home, at Chezib, at the time of his birth, but the passage shows that, in the case of the first and second sons, it was clearly the custom of the patriarchs for the father to name the first son and the mother the second. Nachmanides quotes Kimhi's opinion as of interest?but rejects it.8 The second reference to the naming custom by Nahmanides concerns the birth of his own eldest grandson. He wrote: 'Although the child ought by custom to be called by my name, I desire that he be called Jonah after his mother's father'.9 Judah haLevi, the Hebrew poet, who lived [TABLE B (see page 67)] David Boswell (1640-1712) I James (1749) Boswell of Auchinleck Alexander (1707-1782) David Veronica Montgomerie = Bruce I Margaret ===== Veronica b. 1773 John Erskine (1660-1737) Euphemia James John David (1740-1795) (1743-1798) (1748-1826) Euphemia b. 1774 David James Alexander b. 1775 7 Marian Aguilo, 'Historical Sketch of Majorca's Jews', Majorca Times, 18 March 1965: 'These customs are many and curious. One of them is that of naming children the first son after the paternal grandfather, the second son after the maternal grand mother [sic]. This custom is followed today by Hebrews with historic fidelity'. I am grateful to Mr. R. N. Garvalho for this reference. 8 Commentary of Ramban to Genesis xxxv, 5. 9 Responsa of R. Solomon b. Simeon b. Zemah Duran (Leghorn, 1742), No. 291, 56D.</page><page sequence="4">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 67 in Cordova in the eleventh century, had a grandson named Judah after him whom he mentioned in one of his poems.10 There are several parallel traditions like that of the Western Sephardi Jews to be found among other peoples. The Scottish custom, which is probably Celtic in origin, for it is common to Highlanders and Lowlanders, is almost exactly the same as that of the Sephardi Jews, except on the female side. This is as follows: First son named after his paternal grand? father. Second son named after his maternal grandfather. Third son named after his paternal great? grandfather. First daughter named after her maternal grandmother. Second daughter named after her pater? nal grandmother. Third daughter named after her maternal great-grandmother. In the eighteenth century this custom was generally followed among the Lowland gentry,11 and among Highlanders it still per? sists even to the point that if both grandfathers bear the same name the first two boys will both have the same name too!12 The family of James Boswell, Dr. Johnson's biographer, followed the custom and he and his brothers were all named after their forebears in a fixed sequence in accordance with it.13 [See Table B, page 66] The Western Irish naming custom is as follows: First son named after his father. Second son named after his paternal grandfather. Third son named after his maternal grandfather. First daughter named after her mother. Second daughter named after her maternal grandmother. Third daughter named after her paternal grandmother.14 and among the Dutch in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the following custom, which still persists in South Africa among Afrikaaners, prevailed: First son named after his paternal grand? father. Second son named after his maternal grandfather. Third son named after his father. First daughter named after her maternal grandmother. Second daughter named after her paternal grandmother. Third daughter named after her mother.15 These customs probably go back well before the general adoption of surnames, and one purpose of giving ancestral names to children in a fixed pattern is to show their place in the family and from which families they descend. Even in Southern England, where there is no set naming custom, it is quite usual for the eldest son to be given his paternal grand? father's name and for particular names to run in families. If, for instance, one encounters a distinctive descent like, say, Randolph son of Winston son of Randolph son of Winston son of Randolph, it is possible to identify the family even without the aid of a surname. mother's father, third son for father's grandfather (Alexander for Lord Auchinleck, David for David Montgomerie of Lanishaw, James for James Boswell of Auchinleck)'. lonw na min'' nw? tw, Diwan, ed. S. D. Luzzatto (Lyck, 1864), p. 3b. 11 D. J. Steel, 'The Descent of Christian Names', The Genealogist's Magazine, June 1962, Vol. 14, No. 2, p. 38. See also notes 12 and 13. 12 Lord St. Vigeans, The Scotsman, 11 March 1936, on Scandinavian Sagas?Vikings and their Sobri? quets, wrote, 'It is common enough in the Highlands, where two sons in the same family may sometimes bear the same Christian name, e.g., Donald, the one being called from his paternal grandfather, and the other from his maternal grandfather, who happened to have the same name. The necessity for a distinguishing epithet in such cases is obvious'. 13 G. Ryskamp and F. A. Pottle, Boswell?The Ominous Tears 1774-76 (Heinemann, 1913), p. 164, n. 2: 'In naming his children, Boswell followed the custom usual in Scotland with established families: first son named for father's father, second son for 14 D. J. Steel, ibid. 15 R. A. P. Hare, letter in The Genealogist's Magazine, December 1962, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 121/2.</page><page sequence="5">68 Edgar R. Samuel [TABLE C (see page 69)] Mendes da Costa Luis Henriques Jorge Mendes ^ Genebra Fern?o Mendes == Maria Gutteres Luis Henriques da Costa , Leonora Mendes Gutteres Jorge Fern?o Fernao da Silveira Antonio m 1645 Jo?o m 1650 Phelipe Leonora Maria Joanna da Silva Branca Henriques Maria Soares Luis Henriques Fern?o Jorge Raphael Jo?o Anna Francisca Leonora Mendes Gutteres Branca Maria Jorge Leonora Luis Henriques Fern?o Phelipe Antonio Raphael Branca Leah Sarah [TABLE D (see page 69)] Kings of Judah David Solomon I Rehoboam I Abijam I Asa I Jehoshaphat Jezebel = Ahab Jehoram = Athaliah l Ahaziah l Joash I {continued above, right) Ahaziah Amaziah I . Azariah I Jotham I Ahaz l Hezekiah I Menasseh l Amon I Josiah I Jehoahaz Jehoiakim l. Jehoiachin Zedekiah</page><page sequence="6">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 69 2. Naming after an Uncle Another Spanish Jewish custom is mentioned by the late fifteenth-century Biblical commen? tator Isaac Abrabanel. Commenting on Genesis xxxviii, 9, he remarked, 'For many people call their sons by their brother's name'.16 There is an interesting example of this practice in the pedigree of the Mendes da Costa family, who came from Trancoso, in Portugal, and settled in London and Amster? dam. Two brothers, Antonio and Joao, married two sisters in 1645 and 1650, but although they were living as outward Catholics in Portugal, where the practice of Judaism was a capital offence, they kept to the Sephardi Jewish custom when selecting Christian names for their children, and of course continued with the tradition after their escape from Portugal and reconversion to Judaism. In this family the first three sons were named after their grandfathers and great-grandfathers in accordance with the Sephardi custom and the fourth son in each family was named after a paternal uncle.17 [See Table C, p. 68.] In ancient times among Jews the maternal uncle seems to have been regarded as having a more important relationship than a paternal uncle. The Talmud quotes a saying, 'Most sons take after their mother's brother',18 which seems to be quite old. The only one of the Kings of Judah who can be shown to have borne an ancestral name was Ahaziah, who was named after his mother's brother.19 [See Table D, p. 68.] The Sephardi Jews of North Africa and of the Balkans, unlike those of Amsterdam and London, avoid giving a child the same name as its living parents.20 The Sephardim of Gibraltar and Northern Morocco name the third son after his eldest paternal uncle and the fourth after his eldest maternal uncle, and daughters are similarly named after their aunts.21 More research is needed to discover which of these very similar customs was that of pre-expulsion Spanish Jewry, or whether they both were. The Jews of Portugal came princi? pally from Castile. The Sephardim of Morocco probably came mainly from Andaluzia and Catalonia. 3. Naming after a Grandfather In Biblical times it was not at all usual for Jews to name a boy after his grandfather. The pedigrees of the Kings of Israel and Judah make this abundantly clear,22 as does that of the priests, which extends right down into the period of Persian ascendancy.23 So far as I know, there is only one case recorded in the Bible where a man bore the same name as his grandfather?Nahor, the brother of Abraham24?although Aaron's son Nadab bore a part of his maternal grandfather Amminadab's name.25 Naming children after their grandparents seems to have been a well-established Greek tradition. For instance: 'Sositheus?a client of Demosthenes, named his eldest son after his own father, the second after his wife's father, the third after another relative of his wife, and the fourth after his own maternal grandfather'.26 According to Herodotus the names of the Kings of Phrygia alternated between Midas and Gordias,2? and it is known that the names of the Kings of Cyrene were alternately Battus and Arcesilaus for several generations.28 Even to this day the custom is still current in Greece. I quote from a modern traveller's book, Forever Old?Forever New (Heinemann, 1965), by Emily Kimborough. 16 dp Vs7 DmnV lanf dtok nmn dhtix, I am grateful to the Rev. Bernard Koschland for this reference. 17 Manuscript in the Colyer-Fergusson Collec? tion, Jewish Museum, London. Pedigree by Armand Mendes da Costa. is Soferim, XV, 10, attributed to Abba Guria, first century Tanna (2nd generation). 19 I Kings xxii, 51, II Kings viii, 18 and 25-26. 20 Mr. Prosper Malka, and the Very Rev. Haham Dr. S. Gaon, personal communication. f 21 Rabbi Abraham Levy, oral communication. 22 See G. Roth, A Short History of the Jewish People (London, 1948), illustrated edit., p. 48. 23 See Ezra vii, 1-5. 24 Genesis xi, 24-26. 25 Exodus xix, 23. 26 E. G. Withy combe, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names (O.U.P., Oxford, 1949), p. xvi. 27 Herodotus, Book IV, p. 155. I am grateful to Mr. D. J. Steel for this reference. 28 Rawlinson, note to Herodotus, Book I, p. 14.</page><page sequence="7">70 Edgar R. Samuel 'My friend Adonis did not know he was disturbing my theory of Greek time when he told me the custom that dictates how a Greek baby is named. The first boy, he said, must always carry his grandfathers' name. The acknowledged symbolism of this is the continuance of the grandfather's soul. The second or third son may be named for the mother's father. The first daughter must be named for a member of the mother's family as a symbol of the continuance of her line.' CUSTOM OF GRANDFATHER'S NAME The reason behind the Greek custom seems to have been a belief that by keeping the grandfather's name alive among his descendants his soul would also be kept alive and strength? ened. It was also usual among the Greeks for a son to be named after his father?as was Demosthenes himself. The first sign of naming after a grandfather among the Jews of Palestine29 is to be seen in Josephus's pedigree of the Zadokite High Priests, commencing with Onias son of Simon the Just in the third century b.c.e.30 The early Hasmoneans followed the same custom and Mattathias called his eldest son John (Yoha nan) after his father.31 [TABLE E] The House of Hillel Hillel I Simeon I I Gamaliel I SiiLeon II (d. 70) I Gamaliel II (80-110) Simeon III (c. 135-165) Judah I (165-217) Gamaliel III (217-*. 235) Simeon I Judah II (c. 235-c. 250) I Gamaliel IV (c. 250-265) Judah III (265-330) I Hillel II (330-365) It is also clear from the family tree of the House of Hillel32 that by the second century of the Christian era the custom of naming children after their grandfathers had become firmly established among Jews. A discussion between two Rabbis of this time in the Midrash Rabbah concerns the following text, Genesis x, 25: ' "And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg?for in his day was the earth divided.'' 'R. Jose said: "The ancients, since they knew their ancestors, took their names from events. the much later Talmudic texts are to be preferred as an historical source to the earlier ones used in this case by Josephus. ^Ibid., XII, 6.1. See Stewart Perowne's The Life and Times of Herod the Great (London, 1956) for Hasmonean and Herodian genealogies. 29 Naming after a grandfather was an Egyptian practice which was followed by the Jews of Ele? phantine before Alexander the Great's time, but the influence on Palestinian Jewry seems to have been that of the Greeks. J. Z. Lauterbach, op. cit., cites: G. Buchanan Gray, 'Children Named After Ancestors in the Aramaic Papyri from Elephantine and Assuan', Studien zur semitischen Philologie und Religionsgeschichte, Julius Wellhausen zum Sieb? zigsten Geburtstag (Giessen, 1914), pp. 163ff.; and L. Low, Die Lebensalter in der J?dischen Literatur (Szegedin, 1875), pp. 94-95. 3&lt;&gt; Josephus, Antiquities, XII, 2 (5), and XII, 4 and 5. Doubts have been cast on the reliability of this pedigree and some historians even take the view that Simon the Just was Simon II and not, as Josephus has it, Simon I. Josephus's statement that Jason and Menelaus were brothers is at variance with Maccabees I, and is almost surely incorrect. All one can say is that a comparison between the pedigrees of Ezra and of the Hasmoneans shows that a change of custom must have taken place during the epoch between them, and the genealogy of the Zadokite family in Josephus shows exactly when this occurred. Despite its imperfections, there seems no reason to distrust this part of the pedigree. Nor do the arguments for making out that Simon the Just was Simon II seem very con? vincing, based as they are on the assumption that 32 G. Roth, Short History of the Jewish People, illustrated edition (London, 1948), p. 133.</page><page sequence="8">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 71 But we who do not know our ancestors take the names of our fathers." 'R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: "The ancients because they could avail themselves of the Holy Spirit took their names from events; but we who cannot avail ourselves of the Holy Spirit take the names of our fathers." '33 This passage stresses the point that by the second century of the Christian era Jews considered it normal to name children after their forebears. What had happened?we are bound to ask? between the time of Ezra and that of the Patriarchs to lead the Jews to adopt and retain this novel tradition in the choice of children's names? The answer is clearly the conquest of the Middle East by Alexander the Great and the prolonged and powerful Hellenistic cul? tural domination of the area. Under pressure to show their loyalty by adopting Greek customs, the High Priests had to decide which to resist and which to accept. There is a Jewish legend that Alexander wished to have his image placed in the Temple in Jerusalem, but the High Priest dissuaded him and promised instead that all boys born that year to the priestly families would be named 'Alexander' in his honour34 (since when Alexander has been a regular Jewish name), and he also agreed to the adoption of the Greek calendar.3 5 The High Priest in this story was said to [TABLE F (see p. 72)] The Zadokite High Priests (based on Josephus) Eliashib I Judas I? John Jesus (Conquest by Alexander Jadua the Great) | Onias I Menasseh (Ptolemy Philadelphus Septuagint) Simon the Just Eleasar I Onias I Simon (Antiochus Epiphanes) Onias .1 Onias Jason Menelaus (Jesus) (Onias) 33 Genesis Rabbah, 37, 7. paw uk Vik sniK?n atz?1? pirsn? rn orrorr .irrvaK d^V firsn? ux irorp nx pir ux ??t Dwin nai? Varttoi p pn ?irrvnK Dt^V rwsi? iax 34 Jewish Encyclopedia, 'Simeon the Just' citing Yosippon. 35 Ibid. The references given do not reveal the</page><page sequence="9">72 Edgar R. Samuel have been Simon the Just, whereas, according to Josephus, it was his grandfather Jaddus (Jaddua) who met Alexander.36 But it seems to have been Simon who adopted the Greek naming custom, and since he was regarded as both a great national leader37 and as an au? thoritative religious teacher,38 the influence of his example would have been sufficient to establish the practice of naming children after their grandparents as a Jewish custom for all time?though, as we shall see, it has been modified in some communities where the grandparent is alive at the time of the child's birth. [See Table F, page 71.] 4. Naming after the Great The other practice which Jews seem to have adopted from the Greeks during the Hellenistic era is that of naming a child after a great man. It is interesting to note that, though Alexan? der was honoured in this way, Jewish heroes were treated differently. Not only do the names Abraham, Moses, Aaron, and David not recur in the Bible, but they seem to have been scrupu? lously avoided throughout the Talmudic period too, only coming into general use during the Gaonic era from the sixth to ninth centuries c.e.39 There are other cases of naming children after respected people. There is a story in the source of the story. In two respects Jews did adopt the Greek calendar, long after the time of Alexan? der. They numbered years in accordance with the Seleucid era, and, during the persecutions under Gonstantine in the fourth century, they adopted a sophisticated variant of the Greek system of inter? calating a lunar month seven times every nineteen years, which had been devised by Meton in the fifth century b.c.e. Jews still follow the Metonic cycle, though the Greeks abandoned it in Roman times (see Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 edition, 'Metonic Cycle', vol. XVIII, p. 299). Talmud (Hullin 476), how two infant boys whose lives R. Nathan had saved by his advice were both named 'Nathan the Babylonian' after him. Another subsidiary custom which is prac? tised intermittently is that of naming a child after its godfather (sandek or padrinho) or, among Western Sephardim, after its god? mother (madrinha). 5. Naming after the Father The Bible gives no example of a son being named after his father?so far as I know?but the Hellenistic and Roman periods yield a few. Josephus's pedigree of the last Zadokite High Priests includes one Onias son of Onias who was born during his father's lifetime. According to the Jerusalem Talmud?which was ad? mittedly written more than five hundred years later?Simon the Just had a younger son named Simon, whom he wished to be in line for the High Priesthood40?though the Baby? lonian Talmud gives his name as Shimei.41 There is a story in The Gospel according to St. Luke about the birth of John the Baptist, whose family wished to name him Zacharias after his father but were miraculously prevented from doing so.42 The Bar Cochba manuscripts found in the Cave of the Letters in the Nahal Hever, near the Dead Sea, show that during the second century?that is, late in the Tannaitic period ?Judaean villagers were very frequently named after their fathers.43 A certain R. Haninah bar Haninah is mentioned in the Tosephta and in the Jeru? salem Talmud,44 who became a Nazarite 36 Antiquities, XI, 8, 4 and 5. 37 See Ecclesiasticus, Chap. 1. 38 Pirke Abot, I, 2. 39 J. Z. Lauterbach, The Naming of Children in Jewish Folklore, Ritual and Practice. Central Con? ference of American Rabbis, vol. XLII (1932), p. 331. The rule has a few exceptions. There was an Amora named Abram (Gittin, 50a). One man named Moses is mentioned (Baba Bathra, 174b) and one named Aaron (Baba Kama, 109b) in the last generation of Amoraim and there is a doubtful variant reading of Tebamot, 115b, which includes the name David?p. 356, notes 33-36. 40 Jerusalem Talmud, Torna, 6, 3. 41 Menahoth, 109b. 42 Luke i, 60. 43 J. M. Allegro, The Dead Sea Scrolls (Penguin Books, London, 1959), pp. 174 and 176, reprints two documents from this cave, published by J. T. Milik. The first is signed by Jehoseph bar Jehoseph, witness', and the second mentions 'Eliazar bar Eliazar' and is signed by Judah bar Judah, witness'. That is, three double names in a group of fourteen?as against an incidence of six per thousand among the Rabbis mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (see note 47). 44 Tosephta Niddah, V, 15, and Terushalmi Nazir, IV, 7.</page><page sequence="10">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 73 because his father made a vow on his behalf while he was a minor. A Bunias ben Bunias is mentioned in Tractate Gittin 59a and the con? text makes it clear that his father was alive (see also Erubin 85b).45 Both of these men lived during the Tannaitic period. But among scholars, while naming after grandparents had become a normal and established practice, sons were very rarely named after their fathers. In the eighteenth-century Ashkenazi community at Hamburg, where the father's name was only given to posthumous sons, the incidence of such names was nine per thousand.46 In the Babylonian Talmud it is even lower? only six per thousand.47 The question is, when was a boy given his father's name and why was it generally avoided in Rabbinic families? I think that the reason is as follows: The story of Rabbi Nathan shows that by the second century, naming a child after another person was regarded as a way of showing him honour. For a man to name his children after his parents therefore became a way of fulfilling the Fifth Commandment. The Rabbis taught that honouring one's father and mother was equiva? lent to honouring the Almighty.48 If, however, a man named his son after himself, he would be honouring himself?a brazen and impious thing to do?and quite contrary to Rabbinic ethics.49 For a posthumous son to be named after his father, however, would have been both seemly and fitting. For this reason, while the Greek custom of naming children after their grandparents was accepted by the Rabbis and five hundred years of Greek and Roman rule led the country folk to follow the other Gentile custom of naming sons after their living fathers, the Rabbis avoided giving a son his father's name except on some of those rare occasions where a boy was born after his father had died. There are two cases in the Talmud of Rabbis who were not named after their fathers, although they were posthumous: R. Johanan (b. Nappaha) and Abbaye (R. Nahmani b. Caylil).50 ?ut then again there are three cases further?two in Palestine in the Amoraic period and one in Babylon during the Saboraic period?where posthumous sons were definitely named after their fathers. Hanin, whose birth on the day his father, R. Hanin, son-in-law of the Patriarch, died, is referred to in Moed Katan 25b; R. Abin (Rabin), who was born in fourth-century Palestine on the day his father, R. Abin, died;5* and Mar Zutra, son of the Exilarch Mar Zutra III, who was born in 520 on the day his father was executed by the Persian King for leading a revolt.52 In addition to these three, there was also a Hebrew liturgical poet resident in Palestine in the sixth century named Jose the son of Jose the Orphan?another case where a post? humous child seems to have been given his father's name.53 I would hazard a guess that in those few cases where we find Rabbis named after their fathers, either they came from peasant families, God's glory and exalts his own, then God's glory remains, but the man's glory is diminished," ' Numbers Rabbah, Bemidbar, IV, 20. 'He who humbles himself, God exalts'; he who exalts himself God humbles', Erubin, 13b. See Chapter XX, 'On Humility and Pride', in C. Montefiore and H. Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology (J.P.S.A., Philadelphia) for these and similar passages. 45 There is a strong suggestion that Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh was born and brought up during the lifetime of his paternal grandfather, Rabban Gamliel the Elder. He quotes a point of Law which 'I acquired from the house of my father's father' (Talmud, Tractate Rosh HaShanah 25a) and remembers another ruling of his grandfather's (Mishnah, Tebamot 16, 7). 46 Count by me of the first thousand names in the the cemetery register, where the father's name is specified. See M. Grunwald, Hamburg's deutsche Juden bis zur Aufl?sung der Dreigemeinden 1811 (Hamburg, 1904), pp. 229 et seq. 47 I counted seven double names out of 1,116, where the patronymic is specified, in the Rabbinic Index to the Soncino Press translation of the Babylonian Talmud. (This includes Rabbah bar bar Hana and excludes Bar Kappara, Honein, and Rabin, whose patronymics are not stated there.) 48 See Kiddushin 30b. 49 'Elijah taught, "If a man exalts the glory of God, and diminishes his own glory, God's glory will be exalted and his own too, but if he diminishes 50 Kiddushin, 31b. 51 Bereshit Rabba, 58, 2. 52 R. Abraham Zacuti, Sefer Tuchassin, ed. R. Filipowski (London, 1857), Seder Olam ?uta HaShalem, ed. R. M. Y. Weinstock, p. 135a. I am grateful to Rabbi Joseph Schischa for this reference. 53 Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. VII, p. 242, Jose" ben Jose'.</page><page sequence="11">74 Edgar R. Samuel or else they were posthumous, or else they may have been named after a maternal grandfather of the same name as their father. Since the custom of naming a posthumous son after his father had become established before the start of the Geonic era, it is not surprising that it is today common to Sephardi, Ashkenazi, North African, and Bagdadi Jews, though the custom received strong reinforcement from the teaching of R. Isaac Luria in the sixteenth century that the post? humous son must be given his father's name because his soul is reborn in his body. WESTERN VARIATIONS Since the Geonic era, Jewish communities have varied considerably in their practice. There is evidence that in eleventh-century Italy54 and thirteenth-century Germany55 Jews never named children after living parents, but this does not seem to have been the case in England or in France56 and may not have been in Spain, probably because in these countries the custom of naming after grandparents was followed even when their names were the same as the father's or mother's. An example of this practice in the London Portuguese community is that of Moses Lindo. In 1783 he married Sarah, daughter of Moses da Costa.57 Their second son was named Moses da Costa Lindo after his maternal grandfather.58 Western Sephardim are not the only Jews who sometimes give a boy the name of his living father. Among Yemenites, if a family has lost several babies, the father's name is given to the next son, because it is believed to confer additional strength.59 6. Naming after a Birthday Another Jewish custom is naming a child after its birthday. Although this is reminiscent of the Christian practice of naming after Saints' days, the idea of naming children to com? memorate an event is one which goes back to Biblical times, and birthday names are probably more popular among Jews living in a Moslem environment than among the Jews of Christendom. The practice is as follows: A boy born or circumcised on a Saturday is called 'Shabbatai', if born on 9th Ab he is called 'Menahem', if on the Day of Atonement he is called 'Rahamim', one born on Purim is called 'Mordecai'. One born during Hanucah is called 'Nissim'; one born on Lag BaOmer is called 'Shimon', one born on another Festival is called 'Yom Tob'; a girl born on the Fast of Esther is called 'Esther'?or a child can be named after the lesson read during the week thousand among Hamburg Ashkenazim (see Note 46). My guess is that mediaeval English and French Jews, who both followed the same tradition, gave priority to naming after a grandfather even when the father bore the same name, just as the Western Sephardim did. The higher incidence of double names in the mediaeval English Jewry was probably due to more intensive inbreeding in a tiny com? munity and to the smaller number of names in circulation among them. 54 A commentator living in Italy in the tenth or eleventh century, R. Shelomo b. HaYattom, remarks with apparent surprise that the Rabbis of the Talmudic era?that is, from the first century b.c.e. to the fourth century g.e.?'didn't hesitate to call their sons by their own names?just as Romans [Edomim] even to this day call their sons by their own names during their lifetime.' ?TOW ifeD ontottD anmb rvunp1? nsp rn Salomo ben Hajathom, Kommentar zu Masqin (Mo'ed qatan), ed. H. P. Chajes (Berlin, 1909), p. 14. 55 See note 81. 56 Double names occurred very frequently among mediaeval English Jews. Herbert Loewe concluded from this that the custom of reserving the father's name exclusively for posthumous sons could not possibly have prevailed in mediaeval England. He instances a case where one document is signed by two men with double names?Jacob b. Jacob and Elijah b. Elijah [Starrs &amp; Jewish Charters preserved in the British Museum (J.H.S.E., 1932) vol. II, pp. 69-70]. I agree with his conclusions. Out of 734 names in the index to the three volumes of The Exchequer of the Jews (J.H.S.E., 1905-1929), where patronymics are specified, 44 are double names where the son is named after his father? viz., sixty per thousand, as against twenty-four per thousand in the London Sephardi community (22 out of 919 Portuguese and Italian names in the marriage register [L. D. Barnett, ed. Bevis Marks Records, II] counted by me), and nine per 57 L. D. Barnett, ibid., p. 106, No. 1169. 58 Colyer-Fergusson Collection, Lindo pedigree. Jewish Museum MSS., London. *Eben Saphir, I, p. 5If. i? H^IAO1? ?ff?? nXT mV *njr f?*1? io?m na p^jr</page><page sequence="12">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 75 of his birth: 'Noah* or 'Phineas' after those sections of the Pentateuch or Tsaac' if born during the week of Sedra Vayera, when the story of Isaac is read, or 'Moses' if born during Shemot,60 or a child born on Sabbath Nahamu would be called 'Nahamu' or 'Nehama'. Such birthday names are sometimes given as a second name alongside an ancestral one. 7. Change of Name to avert Death Another custom which is very old and which is common to all Rabbinic Jews is that of changing the name of a person who is extremely ill in a last attempt to save his life. This can be traced to a third-century Talmudic passage in Tractate Rosh Hashana (16b), which reads as follows: 'R. Isaac said: "Four things cancel the doom of man, namely: Charity, supplication, change of name and change of conduct. ' "Charity, as it is written [Proverbs, x, 2], 'And Charity delivereth from death'. ' "Supplication, as it is written: [Psalm cvii, 6] 'then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them out of their distress', ' "Change of name as it is written, [Gen. xvii, 15] 'As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai but Sarah and I will bless her and moreover I will give a son to her'. ' "Change of conduct?as it is written, [Jonah iii, 10] 'And God saw their works, and God repented of the evil which he said he would do and he did it not.' ' "Some say change of place." ' It is pretty clear that R. Isaac did not invent the idea that a change of name would void an unfavourable Heavenly decree, but that he just repeated an established traditional belief and incidentally used it to stress the importance of charity, supplication, and repentance. During the Geonic period a solemn cere? mony for effecting such a change of name was included in the liturgy. These changes of name used to be very common in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and still occur occasionally to this day. The belief seems to have been that with a new name a man put his old sins behind him and started life anew with a clean record and a fresh destiny. After the teachings of Isaac Luria and his disciples in sixteenth-century Safed introduced the idea of universal metempsychosis?or the transmigration of souls?into Judaism, this ceremony was given a new interpretation, and in the liturgy arranged by R. Hayyim Joseph David Azulai in the eighteenth century it is stated that the new name brings into the person 'a new and holy soul'.61 Among Sephardim prayers are said in the presence of the congregation before the open Ark for the recovery of a person who is seriously ill. This service is called the minor supplication or lrogativa\ If the illness is desperate, the major 'rogativa' can be said and this includes a change of name.62 The most usual practice is to give a second additional name, but very occasionally the name is changed entirely. The most usual additional names are Raphael,63 Haim (i.e., 'life'), and Hezekiah,64 and Hannah65 and Sarah?all of which are names of good omen. Among Ashkenazim, as well as these, the Yiddish supplementary names 'Alter' ('old man') and 'Zeide' ('grandfather') are fre? quently used66?as well as the female name 61 Ibid., Note 77, citing Azulai's EHlpn DTDS; (Warsaw, 1874), p. 109. 62 Rabbi I. S. Emanuel, Precious Stones of the Jews of Curacao (New York, 1957), p. 76. 63 Ibid., 'Raphael, because according to the Cabbala Angel Raphael made the sick well.' Raphael seems to have been given as a supple? mentary first name, e.g., Haham Rafael Haim Isaac Garigal. See ibid., p. 481. 64 Ibid., p. 76, (Hisquiau [Hezekiah], because King Hisquiau, though told by Prophet Isaiah that there was no hope for recovery, continued living fifteen years longer as a result of his earnest en? treaties and prolonged prayers to God' (II Kings, xx, 1-6; Isaiah xxxviii, 1-5) 'Hisquiau' seems to have been given as a second name. Antonio Fer nandes Garvajal signed the petition to Cromwell in 1656 as 'Abraham Israel Garvajal' (J.H.S.E., Trans. I, 76), he was buried as 'Abraham His? quiau Carvajal' in 1659 (J.H.S.E., Trans. X, 232). Clearly his name must have been changed by a major 'rogativa', after the lithotomy operation which preceded his death. 60 J. Z. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 343. 65 Hannah was used as a supplementary second name and chosen because Hannah's prayers were answered (see I. S. Emanuel, ibid., p. 76). 66 J. Z. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 349.</page><page sequence="13">76 Edgar R. Samuel 'Chaya' ('life')?or the Pentateuch is opened at random, and the first male or female name read is given as an additional name, even if it is the same as the parent's name.67 8. The Ashkenazi Custom The custom of Ashkenazi Jews is as follows: (1) Children are named after their forebears. (2) A posthumous child is named after its deceased parent, but otherwise children are not ever given their parents' names. (3) If all grandparents are dead, the first child of each sex is named after the paternal grandparent and the second after the maternal grandparent?as in the case of the Sephardi Jews. (4) Children are named after their deceased relations and the names of living relatives are avoided. These customs are followed by the Jews of Bagdad68 and by many North African Jews69 as well as by Ashkenazim. I have been told by three different people that the wife has the right to choose the name of her eldest son if both his grandparents are alive. I have not yet found a case in which this custom has actually been followed. The Ashkenazi customs?like the Sephardi ones?are obviously old. But their history presents a number of intriguing problems, particularly that of naming children after their deceased relatives and avoiding the names of the living. The Teutonic peoples who overwhelmed the Roman empire had naming customs which are very relevant to our subject. They named their children by alliteration, variation, and by naming them after dead forebears.70 [See Table G, page 77.] Alliteration and variation do not concern us, but their custom of naming after the dead does. Scholars believe that it was based upon a belief in the transmigration of souls.71 Naming a child after a successful ancestor would give the child his successful qualities. Naming after a living person would hazard the latter's life and there would be a risk that his soul might go across to the child with his name. In these circumstances the only case where a son would bear his father's name would be if he was born after the father's death. It is not therefore surprising to find that among the Teutonic peoples it was customary to name a posthumous son after his father. For instance, Thorthr, the hero of an Icelandic saga, was born during his father's funeral feast, was given his father's name, and a scar appeared on his arm in just the place where his father had been wounded in battle.72 King Haakon IV of Norway was born in 1204 after the death of his lather King Haakon HI.73 In the pedigree of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England, in the one and only case where a son is named after his father, Edmund, son of Edmund Ironside, there is strong circum? stantial evidence to suggest that he was in fact posthumous.74 [See Table H, page 78.] grateful to Dr. Hilda Davidson and Prof. Halldor Halldorsson, of the University of Iceland, for these references and to Mr. Michael Barnes, of the Scandinavian Department, University College, London, for helping me to understand them. 67 I am grateful to Mr. A. Schischa for this information. 68 Communication from Rabbi Solomon D. Sassoon, who also states that Bagdad Jews 'do not like, in cases where they are giving two names to the child, that both names should be after deceased people'. Oral communication from Mr. V. Mashaal. 69 Communication from Mr. P. Malka and Mrs. Jacqueline Soussan. 70 Assar Jantzen, 'Personnamn', Nordisk Kultur, VII (Stockholm, 1947). M. Keil, 'Altisl?ndische Namenwahl', Palaestre, 176 (Leipzig, 1931). I am 71 See also Dr. Davidson's book?Miss H. R. Ellis, The Road to Hel (Cambridge, 1943), p. 142. All of these cite Storm, 'Vore Forfaedres Tro paa Sjselvandring og deses Ophaldelsessystam'?i.e., 'Transmigration of Souls and the Custom of Naming after the Dead', Arkiv for nordisk filologi, 1893, p. 119. 72 pordr Saga hradu (ed. Asmundson, Reykjavik, 1900), p. VIII, cited in H. R. Ellis, op. cit., p. 141. 73 Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, vol. 12, 780 c. He was born in 1204 after the death of Haakon III. His legitimacy was called in question by the Church, but the point is that he claimed to be Haakon's posthumous son and bore the same name. 74 Sir Charles Oman wrote, 'As Edmund married in 1015 after midsummer and is said to have left two sons when he died in November 1016, they must have been twins, unless the second was a posthumous child, which is nowhere asserted.</page><page sequence="14">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 77 [TABLE G (see page 76)] The Merovingians (457-529) Merovech Childeric Clovis Chilperic (Chlodovech) Clotilda Theuderic Chlodomer Childebert Clotaire (Chlothacar) Charibert Guntram Sigebert Chram Chilperic* Brunhilda | I Merovech Clotaire Childebert (Chlothacar) Sigebert Charibert Dagobert Clovis Clotaire * Those named after deceased forebears are in italics. The belief in metempsychosis is obviously not consistent with the Christian belief in the hereafter, so it is not surprising to find that, as Christianity advanced, naming after the dead diminished. There is a good illustration of this conflict of belief in a mediaeval life of St. Olaf, the King who converted Norway to Christianity in the Indeed his sons are spoken of clearly at his death, not his son'. England Before the Conquest (London, 1910), p. 582, n. 2. Now it is nowhere stated that Edmund Ironside's sons were twins. If it was the custom for a post? humous son to bear his father's name, it would have been self-evident that Edmund was the younger and posthumous and unnecessary for a Saxon chronicler to mention the fact. This argu? ment ex silentio is of limited force. But it is a fact that it was through Edward and not Edmund that the claim to the English throne passed. It was Edward who was given the hand of the King of tenth century, and who bore the same name as an earlier pagan king, Olaf the Elf. Tt is told that once when King Olaf (the Saint) was riding with his bodyguard past the home of Olaf the Elf of Geirsta?ir, one of his followers, who is not named, questioned him: "Tell me, Lord, were you buried here ?" Hungary's daughter in marriage although he was an exile, and his son, Edgar the Atheling, claimed the English Grown as its rightful heir. Sir Charles Oman and other writers list Edmund Ironside's sons as 'Edmund and Edward'. Placing Edmund first seems to be due to projecting the modern English custom of giving the eldest son his father's name back to Saxon times. Burke's Peerage does not accept Sir Charles Oman's twin theory, but states that Edmund was the elder son and that Edward the Exile was posthumous. I think that Edward must have been the elder and that the younger and posthumous son was Edmund.</page><page sequence="15">78 Edgar R. Samuel O 3 ? i o -5 w ? H b? W PQ r if I co "43 s Kl U r?&lt; cm 'S ^ 4h1 co CO _JD co w 2? ss co &gt; _ b? b? - b? ? 3 ? 6 w cm ? cm w 2 co ct) I o ct) cm C W cm -03 "5 st o CO ^ ct) Sa? W in ct) 1) G D CM &lt;u ^ ?43 co"" ^3 I ^ CO 3 CM CIN ? 2 ci CM - O ? co "x3 co cm c? o - b? 3 ?i -I - c - ^ o b? C 2 o 43 H b? b?</page><page sequence="16">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 79 The King answered: "Never did my soul have two bodies, and it never will have, neither now nor on the day of resurrection, and if I say anything else, then the common faith is not truly implanted in me." Then the courtier said: "People have said that when you came to this place before you exclaimed: 'Here we were, and here we go!' " The King answered: "I never said that and I never will." The King was deeply disturbed at heart; he pricked his horse and sped from the place as fast as he could. It was easy to see that King Olaf wished to uproot and blot out this heretical superstition.'75 The Anglo-Saxon kings of England followed these customs right up to the Norman Con? quest, three hundred years after their conver? sion to Christianity.76 The Dukes of Kiev and Novgorod, of the House of Rurik, who were of Scandinavian origin, also followed these customs until the thirteenth century,77 and in Norway and Sweden78 naming after deceased forebears and [TABLE I (see pp. 79-80)] The House of Rurik Rurik I Igor d. 945 'I. Swiatoslaw Jaropelk St. Vladimir d. 978 d. 1015 Izjaslaw Jaroslaw Mcsislaw Swiatoslaw* St. Boris St. Gleb d. 1001 d. 1054 d. 1035 d. 1015 Izjaslaw Swiatoslaw Wsiewolod Wiaczeslaw (1024-1078) (1027-1076) d. 1093 d. 1056 Vladimir II (1053-1125) l.m. 1070 Gyda, d.o. King Harold of England Mcsislaw Izjaslaw Swiatoslaw Jaropelk Wiaczeslaw * Those named after deceased forebears are in italics. 75 Flateyjarbok, ed. G. Vigfusson and G. R. Vager, Vol. II (1941-5), p. 135, cited in E. O. G. Turville Petre's Myth &amp; Religion of the North (London, 1964), p. 194. 76 See pedigree of House of Wessex. 77 See pedigree in Wlodzimierz Dworzaczck, Genealogia Tablice, Nos. 21 and 22, 'rurikow'. Instytut Historic Polskiej Akademii Nawk (War? saw, 1959). I am grateful to Mr. Mieczyslaw Paszkiewicz for this information and reference. 78 Dworkaczck, ibid. See pedigree of Kings of Sweden.</page><page sequence="17">80 Edgar R. Samuel naming a posthumous son after his father is found as early as the sixth79 and as late as the thirteenth century.80 [See Table I, page 79.] Although the German Emperor and nobility did not hesitate to name their children after living forebears, it seems very likely that the old Germanic custom of naming children after the dead would have continued in some parts of the German countryside into the Middle Ages, as it did among the Kings of England, Sweden, and Norway and the Dukes of Kiev. It would not be surprising to find that in some places Jews had acquired this pagan custom practised by their neighbours. Nor would it be surprising to find that Jews retained it even after their neighbours had given it up. The early thirteenth-century Sefer Chassidim? the Book of the Devout?by a German Rabbi, Judah HeChassid, who flourished from 1160 to 1217, contains the following passage: Tf Gentiles call their sons by their fathers' names it has no significance, but Jews are very par? ticular in this matter and in some places children are never named after the living but only after the dead'.81 From this it is pretty clear that in thirteenth century Germany Jews never normally gave a boy his father's name (except perhaps if the father was dead) but that the custom of avoid? ing the names of living relatives was then local and not?as it later became?universal. EARLY PRACTICE It is worth trying to assess the Jewish naming practice before the time of the Sefer Chassidim. In Talmudic times it was quite usual for a child to be named after a living relative, including, on occasions, his own father. As we have seen, it was normal in mediaeval Spain for a grandson to be named after his living grandfather and the same seems to have applied in mediaeval England (Isaac son of Rabbi Josce of London had a grandson named after him in his lifetime)82 and in Italy. (R. Isaiah b. Elijah de Trani was named after his maternal grandfather, R. Isaiah b. Mali de Trani, who took a pride in his grandson's attain? ments as a scholar.)83 If by the time of Judah HeChassid it was the established practice of German Jews to avoid naming children after living parents, one can see that the pagan Teutonic practice of naming after the dead, which was based on very different ideas, would have fitted in with it quite nicely. The next question we must consider is how this local Jewish custom became a general one. I think that this was due to the immense popularity of the Sefer Chassidim itself, which became a most powerful influence. Other novel practices advocated by R. Judah HeChassid, like call their sons by the names of their fathers, and no harm results. But the Jews are careful not to do so. And in some places they do not name after living persons at all, but only after such as have already died.' Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 337, citing Sefer Chassidim (ed. Wistinetski, Berlin, 1891), No. 377, p. 114. 79Janzen, Personnamn, corrects Storm's state? ment that 'naming after the dead' was imported into Scandinavia from Germany in the eighth or ninth century by tracing it back much earlier. so See note 36. 81 There are two different versions of the Sefer Chassidim, both of which presumably emanate from R. Judah the Chassid. The English text given here is translated from R. Reuben Marguliouth edi? tion (Mossad Ha'RavKook, Jerusalem, 1957), p. 10. The Hebrew is as follows: rnaip? an p n^TDpa Dmrrm oiVd imp nnx xVx o^nn mav -inx pip pw .ma This sounds like neutral reporting, but the Sefer Chassidim is not a collection of folklore but a guide to a safe and pious life. The second version makes it clearer that the custom is not merely being reported on but is one which is recommended as a wise one to follow. DmnV pijw du a^p?p?n tod dwih d^T?p? amm mho pn nrrnx awn m?? nnx mix pip pw maip? ?m p mo nsDw nnx xVx a^nn which Lauterbach translates: 'Superstitions work harm only upon those who heed them. Non-Jews 82 H. G. Richardson, The English Jewry under Angevin Kings (Methuen, 1960), p. 2. The evidence certainly indicates that 'naming after the dead' was not the custom of mediaeval English Jews and we should expect the French Jews to have followed a like tradition. 83 Lauterbach, op. at., citing Weiss, Dor Dor VeDorshav (Wilna, 1904), p. 94.</page><page sequence="18">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 81 avoiding a marriage if the bride's father had the same name as the bridegroom, or if the groom's mother had the same name as the bride,84 be? came established traditions among Ashkenazim. The next problem is why R. Judah He? Chassid thought it appropriate to mention naming after the dead as a desirable practice for Jews to follow. He was a leading personality in a mystical movement known as the Chassidei Ashkenaz?the Devout of Germany, which rose to influence in the period after the Third Crusade.85 There is no doubt that the Chassidei Ash? kenaz believed in a close linkage between a person's soul and his name. One of them, R. Menahem b. Meir of Spey, wrote, 'The name of a man is his very essence', IBU Kin D1K 100 and he went on to quote R. Judah HeChassid's principal disciple, R. Eleazar of Worms, who wrote 'The name of a man is his soul', in?tttt Kin mK Vt? iDtr^ There is also no doubt that Jewish mystics of later eras believed in the transmigration of souls. The Sefer ha^ohar or Book of Splendour, which was published in Castile in the thirteenth century,87 taught that if the soul, on its first assumption of a human body, fails to acquire that experience for which it descended from Heaven and becomes contaminated by any pollution, it must reinhabit a body until it is able to ascend to Heaven in a purified state after repeated trials,88 and since this work became the canonical text of subsequent Jewish mystics and Cabbalists, they all adhered to the belief in reincarnation in one form or another. But so far I do not know whether there is any direct evidence that the Chassidei Ash? kenaz believed in the transmigration of souls? a doctrine which, according to Professor Gershom Scholem, was acquired by Jewish mystics in Provence from the Christian Catharist (or Albigensian) heresy in the twelfth century and taken thence into Spain.89 Although the custom of naming after the dead seems to have arisen out of a belief in metempsychosis and although its practice among the Jews of later generations was strongly reinforced by the belief in metem? psychosis fostered by the sixteenth-century Cabbalists, I believe that the custom of naming after the dead appealed to the Chassidei Ash kenaz for other reasons. DISASTERS OF THE CRUSADES R. Eleazar of Worms recorded that during the year 1189 he was writing his commentary on Genesis and was engaged upon Sidra Vayesheb when two armed Crusaders entered his house and killed his wife, his son, and his two daughters.90 There is no reason to suppose that his experience was not typical. It is understandable that he, his master, R. Judah HeChassid, and other Jewish religious writers in demoralised and disheartened German Jewry should have attempted to meet the crisis of Faith which followed after the disasters of the Crusades by addressing themselves to the problem of why a just and beneficent Deity permits the untimely and violent death of the innocent. The Chassidei Ashkenaz found a partial solution, which helped them and their contemporaries to recover their firmness of Faith, by attributing some of these happenings not to God himself, but to errors on the part of his servants, the Angel of Death and his assistants. This idea goes back to much earlier times. There is a story in the Talmud, in Tractate 84 Ethical Will of R. Judah HeChassid, No. 23, Sefer Chassidim, ed. R. Reuben Marguliouth (Jeru? salem, 1964), p. 16. 85 See G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (Thames &amp; Hudson, London, 1955), 'Hasidism in Mediaeval Germany', pp. 80-118. 86 Sefer ^igquni (Cremona, 1560), p. 26, cited by Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 339. 87 G. Scholem, op. cit., pp. 156-204, 'The Zohar I. The Book and its Author'. 88 Jewish Encyclopedia, XII, 232, 'Transmigration of Souls'. ^According to Prof. Scholem (ibid., p. 242), the first appearance of metempsychosis as a Jewish doctrine is in the Sefer HaBahir, which was written by Gabbalists in Provence, apparently during the twelfth century. See also Jewish Encyclopedia 'Bahir'. One should add, however, that Kirkisani, who was a Karaite, wrote a treatise against the belief in metempsychosis in the tenth century (ibid., Kir? kisani) . 90 Jewish Encyclopedia, 'Eleazer ben Judah ben Kalonymus of Worms'.</page><page sequence="19">82 Edgar R. Samuel Hagigah (4b-5a), that the Angel of Death instructed his subordinate to kill one Miriam the Hairdresser but he executed another Miriam, the Children's Nurse, by mistake. Judah HeChassid, as well as advocating asceti? cism, mental serenity, and extreme altruism of conduct,91 added another story of a lethal administrative error on the part of the Angel of Death92 and suggested some new practices which seem to have been designed to avoid and mislead him. The whole subject was given an enhanced emphasis. The ideas of the Sefer Chassidim were eagerly accepted by the dis? heartened remnant of German Jewry, and in the course of time they became part of Ash kenazi popular tradition. In Jewish folk-lore the Angel of Death is depicted as a powerful, conscientious, and incorruptible official, charged with the duty of administering one of the more important terrestrial aspects of the Divine Will, but who is apt to be somewhat rigid and unimaginative in the interpretation of his instructions? perhaps one could say that he is envisaged as the celestial equivalent of a brutal Government official or a police inspector, who, like God's other creatures, falls considerably short of the perfections of his Maker. The character and limitations of the Angel of Death make it particularly risky and dan? gerous for two persons bearing the same name to share the same address. It is easy to see why the idea took root. In the centuries before our own, mortality was high and infant mortality was particularly common. The danger to an honoured member of a family of giving his name to a newly born child living in the same house would therefore have been strikingly apparent to all. Conversely, there would be a danger to the child if he was given the name of a man who had lived out his span and was destined to die soon. Naming after the dead would greatly reduce the risk of such lethal errors. Another naming oddity?one cannot call it a custom because the incident was unique? concerns the author of the Sefer Chassidim him? self. He decreed in his ethical will that his descendants were never to be given either his own personal name, 'Judah', nor his patro? nymic, 'Samuel'.93 The reason was not ex? plained but it was plausibly suggested by a mediaeval commentator that Judah ben Samuel HeChassid felt that he had committed grievous sins in making use of sacred names and was fearful that his punishment would be visited upon his descendants if they were given either his personal name or his patronymic.94 If this explanation is correct, it would give us another example of his conviction that the inefficiency of the celestial administrative system was the root cause of much injustice. The Chassidei Ashkenaz never attained any direct influence in Spain, consequently their customs and ideas were not adopted by the Jews of Spain and Portugal. CABBALISTIC BELIEFS In the sixteenth century, under the influence of Isaac Luria, the beliefs of the Cabbalists underwent a considerable change. Luria believed that souls could be reincarnated as animals as well as men. According to the Zohar, reincarnation was a limited occurrence, providing a punishment and an opportunity for restitution, mainly to those who offended against the first commandment of the Bible, 'Be fruitful and multiply'.95 For Luria it was a much more general phenomenon. He also integrated the &lt;oAflr'.y notion that the soul is a trinity into his own theory of Tbbur', or 'impregnation' of souls. If a purified soul has neglected some religious duties on earth, it must return to the earthly life, attach itself to the soul of a living man, and unite with it to 91 See G. Scholem, op. cit., 'Hassidism in Mediaeval Germany', pp. 91-95. 92 Sefer Chassidim, ed. Wistinetzki (Berlin, 1891), No. 375, p. 114. Two men married during the same week, an old teacher and a young student. The Angel of Death received an order to kill the older man, and by mistake killed the student instead. Moreover, the old man was credited with the unexpired portion of the young man's life. 93 Sefer Chassidim (Yad VaShem, Jerusalem, 1964), Ethical Will, para. 41. 94 R. Nathan Amram, Response pHT mSntP?), Leghorn, 1851, p. 73d, cited by Lauterbach. 95 G. Scholem, op. cit., 243.</page><page sequence="20">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 83 make good the neglect. Further, the departed soul of a man freed from sin appears again on earth to support a weak soul which feels un? equal to its task. However, this union, which may join as many as three souls at one time, can only take place between souls of homo? geneous character which emanate from the same part of primeval Adam.96 The teaching of Isaac Luria became a major influence on popular Jewish thought when it was adopted and spread by the Chassidic religious revivalist movement in the mid eighteenth century. Chassidism, or Pietism, captured a large part of the Jewish population of Southern Poland, Southern Russia, and Rumania, and formed a large minority element among the Jews of Northern Poland, Russia, and other East European countries. Among the Chassidim, Isaac Luria's theories became folk beliefs. The idea took root that the deceased grandparent will protect and guide the child who bears the same name? rather like the Christian belief in a patron saint or a guardian angel. In the musical production 'Fiddler on the Roof, about the life of Jews in Tsarist Russia, based on the story by the Yiddish writer Sholom Aleichem, when the hero, Tevye the Milkman, wishes to cancel his eldest daughter Tzeitel's betrothal, he invents a dream in which her guardian grandmother, Tzeitel, re? appears from the dead, forbids the marriage, and nominates another bridegroom for her granddaughter. The villagers of Anatevka? or most of them?accept that in these circum? stances it would be unpropitious for the mar? riage originally projected to take place. Though fictitious, this story gives a true picture of a Russian and Polish Jewish folk belief?which, though not held by everyone, was widely accepted, especially among the women.97 It was also believed that the grandparent's personality would exert a direct influence, for good or ill, over the conduct of the child bear? ing the same name, which made it particularly important to name children after good people and not bad ones.98 CHASSIDIG CUSTOMS In Chassidic folklore the person who changes his name during an illness also transfers him? self from the supporting patronage of an ancestor whose protection had proved ineffec? tual to that of one whose greater virtues, strength of character, and good fortune might be hoped to prove more beneficial. Chassidim also seem to favour double names and triple names to a greater extent than do Mitnagdim?probably because in this way it is possible to give a child the beneficent patronage of more than one forebear. During the twentieth century, with the trend towards smaller families, there has been a greater tendency?even among non-Chassi dim?to give children multiple names in order to ensure that no forebears are left uncom memorated. Naming after forebears of the opposite sex, though an old practice, is also probably more common now than it once was. R. Isaac Luria was an Ashkenazi whose teaching exercised an immense influence on visited the great-grandmother's grave and asked her to intercede for the child, who, incidentally, recovered. The Mitnagdim (non-Chassidim) whom I have asked have never heard of such prayers to a human intercessor. 96 Jewish Encyclopedia, 'Isaac Lurya'. 97 A lady whom I know has a daughter who was so severely ill that she contemplated changing her name in the hope of saving her life. Before doing so, she discussed the matter with her family. She was assured that the great-grandmother after whom the child was named was a nice person who would never do the girl any harm. A name change was unnecessary. A female member of the family 98 Jewish Law prohibits naming a child after a wicked person. 'What is the meaning of "But the name of the wicked shall rot"??R. Eleazar said: "Rotten? ness enters their names, none shall name their children after them." ' Talmud, Tractate Torna, 38b. I am grateful to Mr. Schischa for pointing this out and to Rabbi Joseph Schischa for drawing attention to the following homily on the same verse: 'The memory of the righteous shall be for a blessing, but the name of the wicked shall rot' (Proverbs x, 17). 'R. Samuel b. Nahman said: "The names of the wicked are like leather vessels. As long as you use them they last, but if you cease to use them they weaken. Thus, have you ever in your life heard of a man calling his son Pharaoh or Sisera or Sen? nacherib? No, he calls him Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or Reuben, Simeon, Levi, or Judah".' Midrash Rabbah, XLIX, 1.</page><page sequence="21">84 Edgar R. Samuel the Sephardi world. He and his disciples repeated some of the admonitions of R. Judah HeChassid. He denounced the practice of marrying a bride with the same name as the groom's mother, or a groom with the same name as the bride's father." He also stated that the father's soul is reborn in the body of his posthumous son, who should therefore be given the same name.100 It is the Moroccan Jewish custom not only to follow these practices but also to name a child after any close relation of the same sex who dies during the period of gestation.101 This accords particularly well with Luria's doctrine of metempsychosis. The influence of Luria's school at Safed may very well explain how the custom of 'naming after the dead' became established among the Jews of North Africa and of Bagdad, for both communities were led by Rabbis trained in the mystical tradition,102 but more information about their teachings is needed before we can determine with any certainty how 'naming after the dead' became established among the Jews of these Moslem countries. The modern Ashkenazi folk belief concern? ing the custom of naming after the dead is succinctly stated by the Rev. Reuben S. Brookes in the preface of his recent book, A Guide to Jewish Names (Birmingham, 1967). He writes: 'There is a reluctance among many Jews to name a child after a living relative. It seems that some Sephardi Jews do this quite freely, but with the Ashkenazim the custom is as binding as law. The belief seems to have been that it was unsafe to name the baby after the living relative for fear that it might rob the living of his full life; and we are thus left with the custom that parents, as a rule, do not name their offspring after a living near relative.' One feels that Clovis would have recognised this belief immediately and that St. Olaf would have had no hesitation in rejecting it as a 'superstitious heresy'. But Judaism is more tolerant than Christianity of off-beat and variant notions about the after-life. Far from being regarded as a heresy, 'naming after the dead' has come to be regarded as an orthodox Jewish practice?and not only among Ash? kenazim. SUMMARY I should like to conclude by summarising our main findings: 1. The Western Sephardi custom of naming children in accordance with a fixed pattern is characteristic of many peoples besides the Jews. One motive is to indicate, in societies which lack the surname system, a man or woman's family origin and place in the family. The source of this tradition is uncertain. 2. The custom of naming children after their grandparents, which Jews have zealously observed for more than two thousand two hundred years, goes straight back to classical Greece and to the religious beliefs of the Greeks. It seems that Simon the Just, who is said to 99 R. Reuben Marguliouth, footnote to R. Judah HeChassid's Sefer Chassidim (Jerusalem, 1964), p. 16, note 33, cites Emanuel Hai Ricchi's Mishnat Hassidim JY'D, where this rule is attributed to R. Isaac Luria. 100 e. h. Ricchi, ibid., n mamn Vtfa roo? rnawa int?** mm Vufaa n^nrai n?tz? to 'And he who dies and is due to be reincarnated and who leaves his wife pregnant and she gives birth to a son, he is reborn in him'. Lauterbach, op. cit., p. 342, adds that Luria stated that the posthumous son must therefore be given the father's name. The Zonar also taught that the man who dies without an heir and whose brother takes his wife in Levirate marriage is reincarnated in the body of their child. G. Scholem, op. cit., p. 243, citing Zohar, II, 99b, and III, 177a. 101 Mr. P. Malka?oral communication. If the deceased is a brother, the child is called 'Mahloof'? 'replacement'. Presumably this is a way of notifying the Angel of Death that a life has already been taken, so that this one should be spared. 102 David Solomon Sassoon, A History of the Jews of Baghdad (R. Solomon D. Sassoon, Letchworth, 1949), p. 154, writes of Haham Joseph Hayyim, who held office as Haham of Bagdad from 1859 to 1909, 'To the public fast days he added the 5th of Ab, the day when he celebrated the Jahr zeit of R. Isaac Luria Ashkenazi'. Mr. P. Malka informs me that the Z?har and mystical works are studied by the Rabbis of Morocco often to the exclusion of the Talmud, all public study circles being normally devoted to the Zonar</page><page sequence="22">New Light on the Selection of Jewish Children's Names 85 have resisted other Greek customs, adopted this one and that it was taken up by Jews generally after his time, very possibly under the influence of his example. 3. But whereas naming a child after his grandparents became acceptable to Jews, the other Greek and Roman practice of naming a son after his living father was discouraged by the Rabbis during the Talmudic period. 4. The custom of naming a posthumous son after his father is more recent and seems to have become established in late Amoraic times. It is traceable to fourth-century Palestine and sixth-century Babylon, so it has been a Jewish custom for at least sixteen hundred years. It is followed in most Jewish communities today. 5. The customs of changing the name of a person who is seriously ill in order to give him a second chance, which is common to all Rabbinic Jews, is traceable to the third century and is probably older than that. 6. The history of the Ashkenazi practice of naming children after their dead relations, but not after living ones, can be traced with a fair degree of probability. We find that it was a pagan German custom, based on a belief in metempsychosis, which was discouraged as heretical by the Church. It was acquired by some Jews in Germany from their neighbours, and the approval of R. Judah HeChassid probably led to its general adoption by the Jews of Germany during the period after the Crusades and to its acceptance as an orthodox Jewish practice. In the sixteenth century R. Isaac Luria and his disciples at Safed may have commended the practice because it fitted in so well with their doctrine of metempsycho? sis, and their influence possibly explains its adoption by the Jewries of the Muslim world. It is a custom which had been followed religiously by millions of Jews for three quarters of a millennium until by usage it has almost acquired the force of law. Nor is this the only paradox. For the only people in England who still adhere to this ancient custom of the Anglo-Saxon Kings of England are Bagdadi, North African, and Ashkenazi Jews. I ought to say finally that my research has been mainly on secondary sources and that my views are tentative, hypothetical, and G subject to correction. I cannot claim to have proved my historical theories to the hilt?only that the circumstantial evidence supporting them is strong. Many of the customs I mention had died out in my own family long before I was born, or else were never part of my heri? tage, so I have had to learn about them at second hand. I am indebted to a very large number of people for help and information. If I have misunderstood or misrepresented any of the details of Jewish popular beliefs and practices I should welcome corrections and additional information. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I should like to thank the many people who have helped me, in particular Mr. A. Schischa, Mr. Harold Levy, and Rabbi Lipa Baum, and also Dr. R. D. Barnett, Mr. Michael Barnes, Mr. G. W. Busse, Mr. R. N. Carvalho, Mr. Sol Cohen, Dr. Hilda Davidson, the Very Rev. Haham Dr. S. Gaon, Prof. Halldor Halldorssen, Mr. J. Laredo, Rabbi Abraham Levy, Rabbi Simcha Liebermann (who, it is only fair to add, disagrees with quite a few of my conclusions), Mr. Raphael Loewe, Mr. V. Mashaal, Mr. P. Malka, Mr. Mieczyslaw Paszkiewicz, Dr. Asher Rubin, Miss S. Ricardo, the Rev. J. L. Salzedo, Rabbi Solomon Sassoon, Rabbi Joseph Schischa, Rabbi S. Sperber, and Mr. D. J. Steel. BIBLIOGRAPHY In addition to the works mentioned in the text and footnotes, I must also mention Rabbi Reuben Margouliouth's Hebrew commentary on R. Judah HeChassid's Sefer Chassidim (Mossad HaRav Kook, Jerusalem, 1964), particularly the very valuable note to the passage cited in my note 81 below (note to section 450 on p. 315), of which I have made copious use. APPENDIX I: MOROCCAN NAMING CUSTOM Rabat ?informant, Mr. Prosper Malka. 1. Children are named after their forebears or after the day of birth, or both.</page><page sequence="23">86 Edgar R. Samuel 2. A posthumous son is given his father's name as one name. A second name?often that of the paternal grandfather?decided on by the family, is often given too. The father's name is avoided otherwise. 3. The names of living relatives are avoided. 4. If all grandparents are dead, the first child of each sex is named after the paternal grandparents and the second after the maternal grandparents. 5. The name of any close relation of the same sex who dies during the period of gestation is given in preference to any other. 6. If a brother dies during the period of gesta? tion and the child is a boy he is called 'Mahloof', which means 'replacement'. 7. Marriages are avoided if the groom has the same name as the bride's father or the bride as the groom's mother. II. SEPHARDI NAMING CUSTOM Gibraltar, Tangier, and Tetuan ?informant, Rabbi Abraham Levy. 1st son after paternal grandfather. 2nd ? ,, maternal grandfather. 3rd ,, ,, eldest paternal uncle. 4th ? ? eldest maternal uncle. 1st daughter after paternal grandmother. 2nd ? ,, maternal grandmother. 3rd ? ? eldest paternal aunt. 4th ,, ,, eldest maternal aunt. A posthumous son is given his father's name, which is otherwise avoided. There is no objection to naming after a living uncle, aunt, or grandparent. Ill: SEPHARDI NAMING CUSTOM The Balkans ?informant, the Very Rev. Haham, Dr. Solomon Gaon. 1st son after paternal grandfather. 2nd son after maternal grandfather. 1st daughter after paternal grandmother. 2nd daughter after maternal grandmother. 3rd and 4th children are named after close rela? tives, especially those who are deceased. A posthumous son is given his father's name, which is otherwise avoided; at his circumcision he is covered in black. There is no objection to naming after a living aunt, uncle, or grandparent. Children are often named after the Festivals on which they are born. A delicate child is named 'Hayeem'. IV: BAGDADI NAMING CUSTOM ?informants, Rabbi Solomon D. Sassoon, Mr. V. Mashaal. 1. Children are named after their forebears. 2. A posthumous child is named after its deceased parent, but otherwise children are not given their parents' names. 3. If all grandparents are dead, the first child of each sex is named after the paternal grand? parents and the second after the maternal grand? parents. 4. Children are named after their deceased relations and the names of living relations are generally avoided, except where double names are given, when it is preferred that only one should be that of a deceased person. Note: It is also the custom for the personal name to be followed by the patronymic and surname, so that a person's second name is normally his father's personal name rather than his own. The Ash? kenazi Jews of Frankfort followed a similar system.</page></plain_text>