Over recent years, increasingly modern and Hebrewized girls names have crept into the haredi community, which has caused some haredim to question how baby girls are named and if those names are 'kosher.' It turns out, some of them are not – at least according to one top haredi rabbi.
Dilemma: Haredim Ask Top Rabbi To Decide Which Girls Baby Names Are Kosher And Which Are Not
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
What should you name your baby girl?
That question was recently posed to the #2 rabbi in the so-called mainstream non-hasidic Ashkenazi haredi faction, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.
Over recent years, increasingly modern and Hebrewized girls names have crept into the haredi community, which has caused some haredim to question how baby girls are named.
Traditionally, while boys’ names have held to relatively strict halakhic (Orthodox Jewish law) requirements set down in part because of the need to use a recognized proper name when calling a male to the Torah in synagogue and for other ritual purposes. But the strictures on naming girls are much weaker, and in the centuries before Worl War 2 in both Europe and the Middle East it was not uncommon for vernacular names like Rosa to be used, or for names derived from vernacular names to given, for example, Yentel, which comes from the Old French word meaning “a gentle woman.” In fact, many female names commonly used by haredim for generations are actually loan names from European languages or direct translations to Yiddish of those older non-Jewish names.
But haredim know little history, and now that some haredi families are using Modern Hebrew or unusual biblical names for their baby girls, the watchers of all of things “modest” and “correct” have become worried about the intrusion of modernity into the haredi community that causes. That, combined with the belief that a person’s name helps “bring down” specific blessings from heaven for that person, caused someone to ask Kanievsky, the great haredi sage, if names like Ayelet and Hila are acceptable.
According to a report on the haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat, Kanievsky reported ruled they are not, and said the girls’ names should be changed to Ayala and Leah, respectively.
However, other names that appear modern on their surface – like Efrat, for example –were approved by Kanievsky because of their biblical source or their meaning.
Kanievsky was also asked about the biblical name Rachel, which is very common in all Jewish communities.
"This is a great name!” Kanievsky answered, “and there is no need to fear that because Rachel was barren and died young [your child will suffer the same fate].”
[Hat Tip: Marty Bluke.]