Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Souls and Names

Art by Sharon Tomlinson
The Talmud (Berachot 7b) teaches that a Hebrew name has an influence on its bearer. Therefore, it is extremely important to name children after individuals with positive character traits who led fortunate lives and helped bring goodness to the world.

The Arizal writes that the nature and behavior of a person, whether good or bad, can be discovered by analyzing his or her name. For example, a child named Yehudah could possibly be destined for leadership, for Yehudah, the fourth son of Jacob, symbolized monarchy and most Jewish kings descended from the tribe of Yehudah.

It is said that parents are actually blessed with prophesy when naming their newborn babies.

According to the Arizal, even the numerical value of the Hebrew letters in one's name can be indicative of an individual's character. For example the gematria of the name Elisheva is equivalent to the numerical value of the Hebrew words yemei simcha, meaning "days of happiness," perhaps portending a joyous life for a baby girl named Elisheva.

It is precisely because the fortunes and misfortunes of mankind are concealed in the secrets of the letters, vowels and meanings of Hebrew names that a seriously ill person is given an additional name like Chaim, meaning "life," or Rafael, meaning "God heals," in order to influence his destiny. We hope and pray that the new name will herald a new mazel, or fortune, for the stricken individual.

Rabbi Elimelech of Lyzhansk, writes in his classic work on Torah "Noam Elimelech" (Bamidbar) that there is a profound connection between the soul of an infant and the soul of the person for whom he or she is named.

When a child is named after the deceased, the latter's soul is elevated to a higher realm in heaven and a spiritual affinity is created between the soul of the departed and the soul of the newborn child. That deep spiritual bond between these two souls can have a profound impact on the child.

Zocher HaBris 24:4, who also quotes Noam Elimelech on Bamidbar: “If they give him the name of a tzaddik who has already lived in this world, this will cause him also to become a tzaddik, because it has aroused the soul of the departed tzaddik in the Supernal World.


Naftali said...

B4 i was born my mom had a dream where my Great grandma came to her in the dream waking her up saying she would b late for the bris... the bris of who my mom asked, your son!! so they start running in the streets get to the shull and they call out Naftali Asher, which is not what they called me in the end my parent's called me Naftali Shalom cuz my Grandpops middle name is also shalom=), then they asked Rav Eliyahu Elfassi Zt"l (the shamash of the Baba Sali Zt"l) if it was alright they changed the name from the dream to which he responded it was great! , how? if you take the name Naftali and move the letters around you get Tefillin and Asher is Rosh so it wouldve been Tefillin shel Rosh since my parent's with the help of H*shem called me Naftali Shalom it's a whole pair of Tefillin, shalom is from the word shalem complete a Shel Rosh and Shel Yad!!! ever since then ive been looking into tefillin and tefilla to find out more becuz they say a person's name is his Neshama (Essence).

Devorah said...

That's an amazing story!