I started an organization named Mekim Sheim B'Yisrael (www.lzichron.org).

There was a childless widow in the neighborhood of Rav Elyashiv who was distressed over her lack of descendents to perpetuate her name for posterity. Rav Elyashiv and his wife thus agreed to name their next daughter Sarah Rochel, this woman's name, and that brought the woman great joy and literally revived her despondent spirit.

The obvious question subsequently asked to Rav Elyashiv was how he named his child after a living individual, something not in line with Ashkenazic practice. His response was that such a profound Chesed warranted it being done.

B"H, there are many Jewish families that have the opportunity to perform this profound Chesed Shel Emes. Considering how remarkably successful the Sefer Zera Shimshon became, it's obvious that such kinds of Zechusim are not taken lightly.

After the first few children are given the names of relatives from two or three generations back,there aren't often many significant and important names to give, and if provided such an outstanding opportunity involving this Mitzvah, many would love to help the Niftarim in such a profound way.

We therefore launched this Gemach (i.e. exchange) where introductions are facilitied, some anonymously, depending on the preference of both parties. The parties can choose anonymity, which can be maintained as long as necessary, or we can connect them immediately. To date, we have neen blown away by the reception and feedback we've seen.

My question for Mi Yodeya is as follows.

When someone learns Torah or does a Mitzvah for the Zechus of a Neshama, that's called "Aliyas Neshama". However, I wasn't clear whether naming after a childless Niftar would be an Aliyas Neshama, or if perhaps it would merely be an honor and Kavod for the Neshama but without any true practical gain.

We asked several Rabbanim in recent days, both of whom believed it would be an Aliyas Neshama (we are now waiting for them to get back to us with confirmation as they wanted to double check).

I was wondering whether one or more people on Mi Yodeya could be able to answer this question of whether the aforementioned is indeed an Aliyas Neshama or is it only some honor which, albeit nice, isn't similar to the other.

1 Answer 1


The Yabam carries the "name" of his brother through the marriage to his brother's wife. Obviously this does not mean actual name, but rather the deeper sense of the "name".

Since a name is the most definite association to identify that which cannot be truly identified. It only encompasses the character which can be seen. The first time we have naming in the Torah, is Adam with animals. Since we carry many of the hebrew roots of those names, we can deduce that he attached their character to the animal.

When it comes to people, there was a development of naming based on experience of conception and birth. Yitzchak because his parents laughed at the idea of his reality. Yaakov because of his actions at birth, grabbing the heal. The twelve tribes all got their name based on Leah and Rachel's relationship to their husband and to God in relation to each birth.

Either way, the name of a person is developed from their personal characteristic, like Eisav. Or the process of conception or birth. Usually it will be in relationship to the child entering this world. For example Moshe, because for Batyah that was the moment of birth, when she saved him from the water. (and for Moshe because he would have died)

The limitation of names is that it is only one small example of the entirety of the individual. The ultimate name encompasses as much of the individual as possible. (God's Names)

The angel is in wonderment when Yaakov asked his name, as it was obvious that he cannot have a name because he is not a single entity but, bound to his master. Servants will generally be stripped of their name when in discussion with their masters, or more precisely the master gets to name them anew. As was with Yosef and Daniel.

Back to the Yibum, by not performing the continuation of the "name" the brother is destroying his brother's house. We see that the word "name" in regards to Yibum would be the recreation of the brother to the wife. And not doing that would be destroying that possibility of creation.

Based on the previous discussion of names in general, we can understand what the "name" by Yibum is referring to.

Most biblical names are a form of "reason" or experience why this person was born. By Avraham naming his son Yitzchak he is reminded of the time he laughed and time Sarah laughed. Yitzchak becomes the definition of the moment his parents laughed. Because he was believed by his parents that he was an impossibility and yet he is here living and breathing. Not only does he have that moment associated with himself, it comes to define him throughout his life.

When we name something, we define it. When we define it, it becomes that definition.

The child of the Yevamah will always be defined by the death of his uncle, so much that he will become the name of his uncle.

This would be as profound if not more profound than that of learning for a deceased one. The reason it is an "aliyah neshama" is the fact that the learning would not have been done had it not been for their death or life.

The child of the Yevamah would not become existent had it not been for the death and life of the uncle.

So, just as the brother carries the "name" forward by bringing into existence a new being. Naming after someone, will give a "reason" of existence based on the deceased one. As if this new child only exists (by name which defines existence) because of the deceased one which carries the name.

There is an actual continuation happening and not a mere naming action. I am speaking of Aliyah as the continuation and recreation of deceased one. If you have a sense of a mystical experience for the soul, I am not proficient in those matters. Although one must agree that continuation of life would a dramatic mystical elevation attached to it.

*as a side note, the more the new child and family become aware of the particulars of the deceased one, the more the continuation of life becomes attributed to them. Similar to the Yibum, which carries the "name" forward by conceiving a child only based on the deceased one. Had it not been for his life and death this child would not exist. So too, this name would be carried forward by defining the child, which is a form of birthing. Just as we see with Pharaoh defining Yosef with a new name to which the king conceived him somewhat.

  • Yibbum is a unique case. I don't see how this answers the question.
    – N.T.
    Jun 9, 2022 at 8:55

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