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Where does the male name מיכל (as in יחיאל מיכל) come from? Is it a diminutive/corruption/translation/elision of מיכאל, derived therefrom in some other way, or simply a false cognate?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

In Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 5:10:2 Reb Moshe ZaTzaL writes that Michel is a Kinui (nickname) for Yechiel.

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and that would explain why the combination יחיאל מיכל is so common – Jeremy Dec 13 '10 at 14:54

לפי תלמוד בבלי מסכת עירובין צו. מיכל בת שאול הניחה תפלין. האר"י מסביר זאת בכך שהייתה לה נשמה מעלמא דדכורא = נשמה מעולם הזכרים.‏


Maybe that is how the name became a male name?

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Wow. This is a compelling find (if not etymological)! – WAF Dec 12 '10 at 22:18
Very intresting – SimchasTorah Dec 13 '10 at 0:27
I can imagine this being used by some people nowadays to advocate certain things that most frum Jews don't support. – Daniel Aug 1 '12 at 3:38

Michel (emphasis on the first syllable) is a German form of Michael (says Wikipedia)

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Agreeing with the general thrust here. The Yiddish ['mɪxʌl] was just a corruption of "Michael", unrelated to the Hebrew girls' name [mi'xal]. – Shalom Dec 13 '10 at 2:44

Sorry that I don't have a written source for this, however, I have heard this from several Lubavitchers, including the Rosh Yeshiva of the Tzemach Tzedek Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Essentially the Admur of Lubavitch, in one of his sichot made a statement that the alef may be corruption of the name, and thus it should be pronounced as if the alef were not there. I have met at one Lubavitcher that was named Michal(minus the alef) on account of that.

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How in earth (no pun intended) is the name of the angel Mi-Ka-El a corruption? – Seth J Jan 18 '12 at 2:05

Aruch Hashulchan, Even Haezer 129, writes (in my own loose translation with uncertain translations marked with question marks in brackets [thus?]):

[We spell the name] "יחיאל". And some are nicknamed "מיכל", so we write [in a get] "יחיאל, who's nicknamed מיכל". Even though מיכל is a [non-nick name?], like "מיכל בת שאול" and like "מיכל מים", still and all, this name is based on a different understanding: Earlier, they'd call יחיאל ‎"חיאל" for short; this [evolved?] into calling him "איחל", which [evolved?] into calling him "מיכל". And don't say that we should therefore write "מיחל", with a ches, as I've already brought the words of the Rama that it's better to write with a chaf than with a ches [a foreign name, "because there are places that read a ches like a he and there'll be a change in the name"], and that's how everyone practices already. However, in any event, since this isn't from the name "מיכל" which is in Tanach, we write "who's nicknamed" and not "who's called".

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Worth noting that the Aruch Hashulchan himself was named Yechiel Michel. – Double AA Apr 8 '13 at 0:10

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