Long story short, my not-quite-seven-year-old son has terminal brain cancer and I never gave him a Hebrew name. I have been searching the texts for the right combination of curiosity (before his speech was taken from him, his favorite word was "why"), impatience (any amount of time spent waiting was "too long") and resignation (a trait that this cruel illness has forced on him). I'm running out of time to find him the right name.

So far I have found

  1. Gideon from Judges for curiosity (he needs test after test before he trusts God's predictions, 6:17, 6:36-40) with the added bonus that his line is nearly cut off (all but one of his 70 sons are killed a few chapters later 9:5, 9:53).
  2. Eli from I Samuel for resignation (3:18)

I'll keep reading, but I put it to the community of folks much more familiar with the text than I: are there characters in whom I can find most or all of these traits together? Or perhaps a single trait, but more obviously exemplified/represented?

  • 6
    JudgeMental, I am sorry to hear of your son's situation and wish your family strength and comfort. Feb 27, 2014 at 14:25
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    In Jewish practice, often a name is given as an omen. Have you considered choosing a name of someone who overcame great adversity? Obviously, I do not wish to tell a complete stranger what is best in such a sensitive and personal decision. Feb 27, 2014 at 20:43
  • I will pray to YHWH-Rapha (Exodus 15:26), the "G_d who heals" (ויאמר אם שׁמוע תשׁמע לקול יהוה אלהיך) that He will have pity on your dear son and heal him in His way and in His time. Don Mar 1, 2014 at 22:24
  • Sorry to hear of this desperate situation. there is much to say on the topic at hand. I would strongly suggest going to one of the leaders of the generation for advice. names are either "felt" by parents, or advised by great torah scholars who have deep understanding in the concept of names. may Hashem grant you all yeshuah and refuah
    – rabbi
    Mar 4, 2014 at 20:10
  • @YEZ that's a good call! Quintessential name for that is definitely Perez.
    – Baby Seal
    Mar 4, 2014 at 21:18

2 Answers 2



  1. The prophet Habakkuk is thought to be the boy in the incident of Elisha and the Shunamite woman. Episode here: http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15910
  2. The second line of his very short book starts "How long..." - your characteristic of impatience.
  3. The third line asks god "Why he shown him [iniquity]", - your characteristic of questioning. There are many other questions in his book also
  4. Despite the bad things God does, Habbakuk accepts God's good - your characteristic of resignation
  • A fantastic choice, sir! I must be as impatient as my son, expecting to find the right personage before having arrived at this book! Feb 27, 2014 at 18:17
  • Can you point me to the evidence for the first point you make? Feb 27, 2014 at 18:27
  • @JudgeMental, The source for point 1 is the Zohar (link).
    – jake
    Feb 27, 2014 at 22:07
  • I have named him חֲבַקּוּק שְׁמוּאֵלְי. He has always invented names with that kind of cadence (3 syllables with lots of 'k' sounds). He's a hugger. And only a miracle like that of Elisha will save him. Thank you again for the suggestion @Clint Eastwood. Apr 19, 2014 at 3:56

The first Tanach person who comes to my mind when you say "curiosity" is none other than Moses. The famous "burning bush" scene turns on his turning from his course to investigate a strange phenomenon:

וַיֵּרָא מַלְאַךְ יְהֹוָה אֵלָיו בְּלַבַּת אֵשׁ מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה הַסְּנֶה בֹּעֵר בָּאֵשׁ וְהַסְּנֶה אֵינֶנּוּ אֻכָּל

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within the thorn bush, and behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not being consumed.

וַיֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אָסֻרָה נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה אֶת הַמַּרְאֶה הַגָּדֹל הַזֶּה מַדּוּעַ לֹא יִבְעַר הַסְּנֶה

So Moses said, "Let me turn now and see this great spectacle why does the thorn bush not burn up?"

וַיַּרְא יְהֹוָה כִּי סָר לִרְאוֹת וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו אֱלֹהִים מִתּוֹךְ הַסְּנֶה וַיֹּאמֶר משֶׁה משֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי

The Lord saw that he had turned to see, and God called to him from within the thorn bush, and He said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am!"

(Exodus 3:2-4)

Some commentaries praise Moses specifically for the curiosity Moses expressed here. For example, see this piece by R' Yissocher Frand. In part:

Rav Simcha Zissel (1824-1898), who was the head of the Chevron Yeshiva, offered the following explanation of this Medrash. The Medrash is teaching us that Moshe merited receiving Divine prophecy because he had a life long thirst for spiritual growth and for seeking out knowledge of G-d. He never sat on his laurels. He never thought to himself "I've already seen enough." The constant striving to always learn more and grow more and be more was Moshe's essence.

May God recognize your son's striving nature with increasing closeness to Himself, as he did for Moses, our teacher, and may He grant you and your son the strength you need in this difficult time.

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    With the added bonus of a speech impediment. Thank you for the answer! Feb 27, 2014 at 18:18
  • @JudgeMental come to think of it, resignation is also a very important theme for Moses, who wanted desperately to lead the people to the Holy Land but ultimately had to bow to God's will that he pass away on the other side of the Jordan River. I may add this to the answer later.
    – Isaac Moses
    Feb 27, 2014 at 21:34

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