Off Topic: Name Yourself

There’s a small column in the daily Hamodia that I once glanced at. It was talking about names. It said a person has three names: the one (s)he is given at birth, the one other people give him/her, and the one (s)he gives him/herself. It said the first two do not describe a person honestly, because they aren’t given by people who know everything about a person. Only the third one is.

The article then went on to confuse itself by talking about the importance of acquiring a good name for yourself among people, and claiming this was the third type of name. It seems apparent to me that this is actually the second type. The third type of name would be what you would call yourself if you could name yourself. If you had to choose a name to express your essence, what would it be?

Do you feel that your birth name adequately expresses you-ness? Why or why not?

Do you think you might have grown to fit the name – or fought it?

If you could name yourself anything, what would it be? (Don’t feel limited by culture; if Thundering-Herd-on-the-Mountain is your idea of a great name, go for it.)

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8 thoughts on “Off Topic: Name Yourself

  1. Well, the Maharal says that the name of something is our essence. When our parents name us they have a certain amount of “siyata dishmaya” which gives us a goal to live to. It helps us determine what our potential is. Sefardim don’t believe in nicknames because you have to know what your name is when you come to shamayim, and because your name is you. If you mess with it then you may mess yourself in terms of knowing what your tafkid is.

    That being said, i wrote a post on somethinig similar to this a while ago: http://aminspiration.blogspot.com/2009/01/whats-your-adjective.html

    as for a name i would pick for myself, i could never make a decision that monumental.

  2. Regarding acquiring a good name for yourself, this is not a name that you are called by. It is how you are viewed by other people based upon your actions; therefore, you give yourself this name by choosing to do what you do.

  3. AM Inspiration, we’re not Sephardim, but I don’t care for nicknames, myself — even the variations on a name like Rivky or Saraleh.

    As for the original post: I don’t think it is a different name, but what is associated with one’s name. That’s the idea of “tov shem mishemen tov” and kesser shem tov considered even loftier than than the kesser of Torah. Avigayil said of her husband, Naval, “keshmo keyn hu,” and she didn’t mean it as a compliment. That is the opposite of a shem tov that one strives for. Interestingly, in Megillas Ruth, Naomi tells her friends not to call her by given name because she feels her circumstances have made in no longer appropriate and tells those who know her to call her Mara. But she doesn’t mean that this proposed name defines her essence but her experience.

  4. I chose my name. I would pick a different one if I could go back though, I’d do the two first names thing that some frummies do.

  5. I thank my parents everyday for my name. In a family in which all the cousins share names, it’s nice to be a little unique-especially when my name just…fits me!

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