We all know that Moshe Rabeinu had 7 names and was called Moshe which was the name Basya gave him. Recently I was in a Shul and there was a fellow there that had a grandaughter the previous week. The child was named by the parents however the grandfather was unhappy with the name they gave. (I do not recommend that anyone should do this.) The grandfather wanted an Aliyah and wanted to give a different name. The Gabbai smartly forgot to give the grandfather an Aliyah and avoided the unhealthy consequences of doing this.

My question is - does it work? Suppose the grandparent gave a different name than the parents or anyone else for that matter does this child now have additional names?

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    There is a Teshuva from HaRav Moshe ZATZAL in Yoreh Deah 3 - do not know the Siman - regarding each parent giving their own name. Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 2:07
  • 3
    Did you find that Teshuvah?
    – Seth J
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 3:07
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/17030
    – msh210
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 21:36
  • A very real case: My friend has lived seperately from his wife from before their youngest daughter was born. He called the baby by one name, while another name was given by mother and both grandparents. Until today (the child is about 1½) the girl is called each name by the respective parent. So too, the environment of each parent respects only that parent's choice.
    – Adám
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 18:00

3 Answers 3


This is a great question, which no doubt has great ramifications.

I believe that there is a general assumption that for any "Ḥaloth Shem", as it were (no pun intended), there needs to be a Kinyan. In plain English, that means that for Halachah to recognize a status change in anything there needs to be a formal act of acquisition. Since a name isn't conferred in this way, my gut (and my brain) tells me that, along the lines of YDK's point, while a naming ceremony is important for demonstrating the "official" point of origin for a name (perhaps useful in a case of doubt), the actual name that is used is what has the most Halachic weight. If that is true, then in a case of controversy, if two names are declared in competing "official" declarations, either by divorced parents or just arguing family members, the name that is used throughout the person's life would be the one that "counts". If they are both adopted by the person at some point, it might be of some Halachic importance to try to determine - probably with yet a third naming ceremony later on - what the proper order of the names is, or if one is to be regarded as a nickname.

EDIT: Please see the following link for an article by Rebbi UMori R' Mordechai Friedman discussing change of status via Kinyan (specifically in the case of a Jewish wedding). http://vbm-torah.org/archive/kiddushin/07kiddushin.htm. My previous assumption that there cannot be Ḥaloth Shem without Kinyan may be incorrect, according to this article, but it may shed some light and further corroborate (or possibly reject) the idea I presented, namely that baby naming is something outside the realm of standard Ḥaloth Shem.

  • I think you meant "Halot Shem". Doesn't your version mean 'named loaves'?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 18:02
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    @DoubleAA - The truly pedantic question is why it's not Ḥalut Shem.
    – Dave
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 19:01
  • @Dave:: Touche!
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 19:46
  • @DoubleAA, I changed it from "u" to "o", as that seems to be the consensus pronunciation everywhere I look. And you were right about the Dagesh (so far as I can tell), so I changed that.
    – Seth J
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 19:55

The naming of a child merely announces that that's what he should be called by people. Halachically, it boils down to what people actually call him, and not what the gabbai said after vikarei shmo b'yisrael... (From my experiences with gittin)

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    Could you please elaborate on this?
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 23:16
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    I am not a baki in hilchos gittin, but have been involved in many. Any name which the parties involved claim was givin at birth, but no one called them by the name and he was not called up to the Torah by that name is not considered his name (I'm not sure if it pasuls the get b'diavad). For example, if someone was given at his birth the name Reuvain Z'ev Wolf, but people called him Reuvain and he was called to the Torah as Reuvain Z'ev (and he was never called by Wolf, not to the Torah and not by people), he would be listed on a Get as Reuvain Z'ev d'misk'ri Reuvain.
    – YDK
    Commented Feb 4, 2011 at 16:36
  • Nobody knows why, but my father's middle name (vikarei shmo b'yisrael) is the same as my grandfather's name, and thus his name, when called to the Torah, is AB ben B. At some point, he decided to ask his Rav whether this is appropriate to be called as such for an aliyah (as Leviim, we get aliyos quite often). The Rav answered that he could ask the Gabbai to call him up by just his first name - A ben B. I, however, when I get my aliyos, use his full name.
    – DonielF
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 0:15

No source but logically, the grandfather has no naming rights, therefore his naming of the child is null and void. Nevertheless, if the grandfather's name sticks and people call the child with that name, then it is no different than any nickname which does have validity, for example with respect to writing a Get.

In the Torah we find Yakov giving a different name to Binyamin after he was already named by his mother. I assume that was because naming rights belong to the father, but I need to look at the sources there.

  • It might not be so simple due to the general principle of "[one's] children's children are like [one's own] children". I guess it depends on the basis for the Halachic significance of the name declaration.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Feb 3, 2011 at 22:27

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