I remember hearing that parents have Ruach Hakodesh when choosing a name for their child.

What's the source for this idea? And do the sources discuss what this actually means? (If a parent gives a non-jewish name, does that still come with ruach hakodesh?)

  • 3
    What about when choosing a Mi Yodeya username? #PTIJ
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 17:11
  • 2
    @DoubleAA your comment made me think of another question: does a baal teshuva have ruach hakodesh when choosing a name for himself in real life.
    – aBochur
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 17:20
  • 1
    What if the parents each have a different name they want to name the child?
    – Dude
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 0:07
  • @dude that's a very interesting point!
    – aBochur
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


There appear to be multiple sources for this, and I don't want to "hog" things, here. One (or two) source(s) from here:

The Ari taught that Jewish parents are imbued with Ruach Hakodesh, a spark of the "Holy Spirit," when they name their children. The name they select is invariably the true description of the neshama, or spiritual essence of their child.

The Talmud expresses this same concept in terms of character (Yuma, 83b); a Jew's name accurately reflects his or her essential character. The clear implication; when parents name their child, they are given a prophetic glimpse of their child's neshama, or "spiritual essence".

The original source for the teaching of the Ari is here and reads:

ונמצא כי כאשר נולד האדם, וקוראים לו אביו ואמו שם אחד העולה בדעתם, אינו באקראי ובהזדמן, כי אם הקב"ה משים בפיו השם ההוא המוכרח אל הנשמה ההיא, כמש"ה אשר שם שמות בארץ

Regarding non-Jewish names, Yiddish names, "new" names, etc., see this article, as there are various halachic opinions for each scenario.

Regardless of the halachic opinions mentioned some things to consider:

  • Esther and Rus and non-Jewish names. They are used frequently.
  • The Talmud has numerous Aramaic, Greek and other "weird" names, etc. - Yanai, Unkelos, Sa'adia, Mar ...
  • Likewise, Yiddish names abound - Zissel, Shainah, Mendel, etc.
  • +1 this answers the first part of the question. Any comment on the second part? (Maybe i should edit it out and ask separately?)
    – aBochur
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 17:13
  • Offhand, I think that the Ruach Hakodesh is there, regardless of the type of name that they choose. Every name reflects the child's character. It's questionable, however, if they name someone after a rasha, perhaps. I'll see if I can find another article that discusses the types of names. I don't think you need to separate the 2nd part into another question, though.
    – DanF
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 17:47
  • This argument is especially amusing for Ashkenazi "animal" names :-D Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 18:15
  • 3
    A rabbi in Chabad told me that the English name my parents chose for me was likewise influenced by Ruach Hakodesh, and that it would therefore be appropriate to add it to my Hebrew name.
    – SAH
    Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 18:53
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    OTOH, this kabbalistic tradition is somewhat of a contradistinction to the passage from Chazal (Midrash, Gen. Rabbah): "רַבָּן שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר הָרִאשׁוֹנִים עַל יְדֵי שֶׁהָיוּ מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ, הָיוּ מוֹצִיאִין לְשֵׁם הַמְאֹרָע, אֲבָל אָנוּ שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ מִשְׁתַּמְּשִׁין בְּרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ אָנוּ מוֹצִיאִין לְשֵׁם אֲבוֹתֵינוּ".
    – Oliver
    Commented Apr 19, 2018 at 3:42

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