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Sometimes people add a name for a sick person. Can you just change it to an entirely different name? I know of a case where they kept the first name and changed the second name - originally the name was Menachem Mendel and they changed it to Menachem Chaim. I do not know if a Rabbi was asked and I am curious if there is any source for doing so.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The answer Here: http://www.tzemachdovid.org/thepracticaltorah/lechlecha.shtml

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Care to elaborate? –  Double AA May 20 '12 at 5:00
1  
Summary please... –  Hacham Gabriel Jul 3 '12 at 3:37

I don't remember my source for this, but I recall learning that they used to completely change someone's name (not just his second name). Our adding a name is a modified version of that.

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Indeed, that is how the minhag began. The practice of changing one's name to an entirely new and unrelated name is attested in many places relevant to gitin because of the precision in names necessary there. (citation needed)

Incidentally, it seems that the minhag was drawing upon the auspiciousness of the name changing and not the meaning of the new name, so it was just as likely for בנימין to turn into ראובן as חיים.

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