In Genesis 2,19 it is written that the animals were brought to Adam so that he would name them. Of course we cannot say what exactly the purpose of living is but there are some 'explanations'. For example, HaRamacha"l in Derech Hashem A,4 gives a general guideline (and more detailed in D,1) as to the purpose of living. Doing Mitzvhas. I cannot see how naming animals can be a Mitzvha or helpful for performing Mitzvahs. I remember seeing they were brought so that Adam would see he needs a new existence to support him (as implied in 2,20). However, naming the animals isn't necessary for that. Even if we explain the naming corresponds to the true meaning of each animal etc. the way the Torha portrays Hashem bringing the animals is like "Oh well, let's see how is gonna call 'em". What is the meaning of "לראות מה יקרא לו" and the importance of naming (either as a goal or a mean) ?

  • As you alluded, a name is more than an identification. It represents the behavior and essence of the creature. Of course, there is practicality to it, as well. Mankind could not just generically refer to every animal as "that weird tall striped creature over there." As you know, several halachot. in a sense, have been derived from animals behavior. One notable example can be found at the beginning of the Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, i.e. - one should arise as a lion each morning.
    – DanF
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 16:59
  • This might be true if we say that naming isn't giving the name itself but rather, understanding of the creature. Otherwise, this is merely helpful for our own needs. It could have also been "rise in a strong manner with no laze, fitting for a king". What bugs me is the description of "לראות מה יקרא לו" which is strongly tied to the naming itself, this is different of your answer.Moreover, pretty much any translated source bypass this.
    – Zeev
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 17:26

2 Answers 2


Rav Hirsch translates "לראות מה יקרא לו" as "so that he (Adam) would see what to call them for himself". Note that this is still on the sixth day (part of creation), so that Adam is taking part in the creation of the world and establishing the "laws of nature".

Rav Hirsch says:

Man gives things names, not as Hashem, Who sees things objectively as they are, but נפש חיה, subjectively, from his own point of view as a נפש an individual, חיה who receives the acceptible or rejectable things about him.

  • The idea of Adam taking part in the creation is very interesting! Although we can say Hashem already 'knew' how Adam is going to call them. Do you mean it was like asking Adam to 'design' a new animal ? Still, that doesn't explain why. Adam could have done it by himself (we kind of doing it today aren't we?) without Hasem bringing him the animals.
    – Zeev
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 18:35
  • @Zeev No, Adam did not "design" a new animal. Hashem brought him the animals for him to "recognize" the essence and essential meaning. He also brought them for Adam to realize that they were not on his level and he needed Chavah. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 18:38
  • The design is an example of how Adam COULD have taken part, it is just that I never thought naming was an actual part of the creation.
    – Zeev
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 20:11
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    @Teusz It is on that pasuk in the six volume set translated into English by his grandson, Rabbi Isaac Levy Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 14:28
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    @Teusz amazon.com/… Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 15:35

According to the Medrash Rabba 17:4, this ability of his due to his superior intellect was the way Hashem proved to the ministering angels how worthy man is, and that he should, in fact, be created.

א"ר אחא בשעה שבא הקב"ה לבראת את האדם נמלך במלאכי השרת אמר להן נעשה אדם אמרו לו אדם זה מה טיבו אמר להן חכמתו מרובה משלכם הביא לפניהם את הבהמה ואת החיה ואת העוף אמר להם זה מה שמו ולא היו יודעין העבירן לפני אדם אמר לו זה מה שמו אמר זה שור זה חמור זה סוס וזה גמל ואתה מה שמך אמר לו אני נאה להקרא אדם שנבראתי מן האדמה ואני מה שמי א"ל לך נאה להקראות אדני שאתה אדון לכל בריותיך א"ר אחא (ישעיה מב) אני ה' הוא שמי הוא שמי שקרא לי אדם הראשון.

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