I heard recently that Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky Shlita said that one should not name their children with modern hebrew names such as Shira and one should only give names from Tanach. I was also told that this is brought down in a sefer called "V'korey Shmoi B'yisroel". Does anyone have a copy of this part of the sefer or insight into this psak? If only Tanach names should be used what about Yiddish names, or Aramaic names in the Gemara?

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    Who in Tanach is named Chayim?
    – Double AA
    Feb 20, 2013 at 3:15
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    @DoubleAA I don't understand your point - do you think he named himself?
    – yoel
    Feb 20, 2013 at 6:04
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    @yoel No. But I think the Steipler did. And it's deliciously ironic :)
    – Double AA
    Feb 20, 2013 at 6:08
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    @DoubleAA I don't think it's so strange that he would hold differently than his father, but anyway I wonder if the psak in question rules with regards to names found in Tanach but not as names, like Aryeh or Chaya.
    – yoel
    Feb 20, 2013 at 6:42
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    @Yitzchak: I disagree. The choice of a name does touch on halacha, according to some sources. I heard a lecture by Rabbi Shmuel Niman (Chofeitz Chaim Yeshiva), shlita, who said that he had "recently learned" that it is wrong to name a child with the names from two different people, although he admitted it is commonly done. If the Rabbanim have discovered that the community has been doing something wrong all of these years, including their own parents, it is appropriate for them to try to bring us back on track. Feb 20, 2013 at 14:16

2 Answers 2


My local shul happens to have this Sefer. I borrowed it and scanned in the relevant pages dealing with R' Chaim Kanievsky's opinion on modern names. Here are the relevant pages from the book (page 50-51, and 168-171).

My loose translation of some of the relevant parts:

One should not give their children new, modern names, because they do not have any holiness, or bring blessings. Rather, he should give names from Tanach, and names of Tzadikim that have holiness and purity and bring blessings and cause a positive effect on the child. In the majority of cases, new names not only do not have any holiness, but additionaly have no positive meaning, and only in rare cases have positive connontations. Therefore, one should avoid using new and modern names. Source: R' Chaim Kanievsky, as I heard directly from him on numerous occasions. I presented him with over 200 new names, [asking] if one should call them or not. He erased almost all of them, and said to me, "Is there and shortage of names in Tanach, that one needs to make up and find new names!" (Chapter 15:1, and footnote 2 there).

It seems the objection was more to the idea of innovating new and modern names, rather than something against non-Tanach names.

In his introduction to the Sefer, he proposes two explanations for this opinion: He suggests that based on the Arizal who says that since the time of the second Beis Hamikdosh, there are no longer new souls brought down, but only re-incarnations. Since the name of a person is connected to the soul, it follows that there should no longer be new names invented. Another possible reason is based on Breishes Rabba 37:7 which states that, "The earlier [generations] would utilize Ruach Hakodesh, and name according to the events that happened. However we do not use Ruach Hakodesh, and give names from earlier generations."

  • “This sefer” can you identify it by name, please?
    – LN6595
    Apr 13, 2018 at 1:02

Perhaps he was talking about names in Hebrew specifically, as it is considered a holy language. Therefore, a Yiddish name (which may be derived from German, Slavic, or some other Ashkenazim language) would be okay. Also, saying that you shouldn't name your child something officially doesn't stop them from having that name. Of course, they could take up a modern Hebrew nickname, which you would have no control over. However, one shouldn't assume responsibility for someone else's nickname (in my opinion). I hope this helps.

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