יום השנה א' דר"ח טבת (ל' כסליו)
שלא שינו את שמם
Most of the Oilam answered that שלא שינו את שמם
applies to Goyishe names. The only time there
is a problem is when changing to a Goyishe name.
I would like to take a different approach.
Perhaps the concept of שלא שינו את שמם only applies
to not changing an existing name of a person.
The Loshon שלא שינו את שמם suggests not
changing an existing name and not that you shouldn't
name a child a Goyishe name. Possibly, in Mitzrayim
even changing to a new Jewish name should not
Perhaps, to, name a newborn child who never
had a name with a made up name and even
a non-Jewish name, the rule of שלא שינו את שמם won't
If however a child was named at his Bris etc. and
later on decides to change his original name with a new
name for the sole purpose to blend in with the Goyim,
this would be wrong and this is what the Bnei Yisroel
were careful not to do. שלא שינו
This might explain the Gemoro in Gittin 11b that says
מפני שרוב ישראל שבחוץ לארץ שמותיהן כשמות עכו"ם
and explain why throughout the ages Ashkenazim
have names in Yiddish, Polish, Russian and Sephardim
have names in Spanish & Ladino etc.
Harav R. Chaim Kanievsky Shlita is very Makpid not
to name with newly invented modern Hebrew names. He
claims that it's not a name at all and one must change
it to a proper Jewish name.
R. Chaim considers only names that appear in תנ"ך or
in בית שמואל (E.H. Hl. Gittin) or established names from
previous generations, as proper Jewish names.
His Psak is based on a Midrash Rabah (Breishis 37:7)
"The Rishonim who knew their Yichus and had Ruach
Hakodesh they were allowed to name after events
that occurred. We who are not at that level and may only
name names of our forefathers."
When asked why modern Hebrew names are different
than the names in Yiddish etc. that were given back in
Europe. R Chaim insists that they must have had their
own reasons and it is not applicable to modern Hebrew
names of today.
R. Chaim has a very strong opinion on the matter. He
refers to those who name their children with modern
Hebrew names as משוגעים. He insists that they change
their names to a traditional name.
Mori V'Rabi Harav Hagaon R. Shlomo Miller Shlita is not
supportive of changing the name, being it might create
problems in the Kesubah and if Chas Vesholom there
will be a Get.
*One of the Meforshim on the Midrash (שה"ש פ"ד) writes
"Being there are רמזים of the גאולה in the names of
the שבטים, therefore, they were Zoche to go out of Mitzrayim
by not changing their names(seems even changing to a
Loshon Hakodesh name would have been problematic)
** There is no problem with שינו את שמם but you still may
not make up new names because of the Breishis Rabah 37:7