R' Kanievsky and his list of names....
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Post  Sun, Apr 26 2015, 10:39 am
As far as I know, R' Chaim doesn't approve of Yiddish names either. I have a relative named "Silki" who was advised to change her name to "Shulamit Hadas". I don't know why those names are ok and Shira, Tehila etc. not.

Last edited by morningsickness on Sun, Apr 26 2015, 12:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Sun, Apr 26 2015, 11:24 am
I'm sure R' Chaim wouldn't approve of my name either. But I'm not asking because I don't want to hear. I have a lot of respect for him, but he's not my rav.

You don't have to go by whatever he says, you don't have to ask him his opinion, but please, don't disparage him. He is a big tzadik and there's a reason why lot's of people do listen to him.
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Post  Sun, Apr 26 2015, 1:58 pm
Interesting about the name chanania. My brther is called chanania. Not chassidish at all. My first cousin is called chanania. Not chassidish at all. They are both named after our grandfather who, before WW2,was from a chassidish family, but if you saw pictures of him after the war, was anything but chassidish.
Sometimes its that, being named after someone. And sometimes its just people liking names.
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Post  Sun, Apr 26 2015, 2:01 pm
Rav Chaim Kanievsky makes a siyum on "Kol Hatorah Kulah" every year - he learns the entire Tanach and Shas - Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi each year.
So everyone should respect his knowledge and his learning, even if you don't ask him your halachic questions.

In terms of names, according to the article I posted on the first page, he feels that names should come from Tanach or Gemara or have a mesorah.

His name is Chaim Shmaryahu, he has a sister Ahuva, a daughter Bracha and a sister-in-law Shoshana Aliza (daughter of Rav Elyashiv)..

The article does not give a complete list, but it does say the following names are good names:
Names of Flowers
Shabtai (spelled without an aleph)
Chagit (this name is good for a girl born on Succos)

It says the following are not names:
Eliran (Rav Chaim’s father, the Steipler, told an Eliran to change his name to Elchanan Eliyahu)
Names of Trees

They asked Rav Chaim if there is an inyan to name a similar name after someone who passed away, ex. Tzvi after a Tziviah and he said after the Chazon Ish (whose name was Avraham Yeshayahu) was niftar, the Steipler told his sister to name her daughter Elisheva since it has the same letters as Avraham Yeshayahu.

On a personal note, my friend's daughter's name is Rachel and she was told by a Syrian lady that the Syrians do not name Rachel because Rachel Imeinu had a hard life!
Also, as I posted earlier, I know a Shira who got a bracha from Rav Chaim and he did not mention anything about her name.
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 3:23 am
Shuly wrote:
Rav Chaim Kanievsky makes a siyum on "Kol Hatorah Kulah" every year - he learns the entire Tanach and Shas - Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi each year.
So everyone should respect his knowledge and his learning, even if you don't ask him your halachic questions.

Should he ever write something (himself, I do not trust the people who report on what he has allegedly said) explaining his views on names, including references to Tanach and Shas I am sure it will make interesting reading.
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 4:41 am
I always understood the reasoning behind R Chaims suggesting not to give a certain name, not because its Ivrit, or Yiddish or .... Rather, that the word isnt fitting to be a name for a person. For example, if you learn meforshim on the concept, you will learn that the concept of Shira is an extremely lofty expression of joy that one bursts forth with. Shira is not a name, its a concept. A person cannot be shira, as shira is a concept in itself. Perhaps Ashira would be an acceptable name, as it expresses a feeling about the baby. I would assume the reasoning behind Tehilla is the same.

Also, Rav Chaim himself doesnt go around telling people to change their names.
He may suggest it when someone comes to ask him for something, but he is not the one going around publicizing lists of names that people should not give.

Its known that when people come to Rav Chaim for a Bracha, he will almost always suggest that they do something/take something on. Sometimes the things he suggests seem to us as trivial (peyos in front of ears, lighting shabbos candles ten minutes earlier etc etc) My rav explained this that Rav Chaim knows about his Koach of tefilla, but he wants people to also realize the koach of making a positive change in their life and listening to rabbanim. Then it becomes both the zechus of keeping the kabala from R' Chaim as well as his his tefilla that the request may be answered.

It doesnt mean that keeping peyos in front of your ears in the most holy thing to do and that everyone should take this on.
Rather, once you ask R Chaim, and he instructs you to do something, its chashuv and a mitzva to take on that thing. And Rav Chaim, is definitely more into Kabala, and things that we wouldn't easily understand, than other gedolim.
(and btw my rav said he forbid his daughter shira from going to Rav Kanievsky!)
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 12:00 pm
Thing is, Yidish names have a mesora, Nissim has a mesora (it's him about Nissim, right? or another rav?)...

Ido doesn't have a mesora even though it's Tanachi.
Perel is yiddish, and not all flowers names by far have a mesora...
I don't even know what Ishram is. Or Uza.

Flowers ok trees no?

Mmmmm. I'm very perplexed... I understand rabbis who say "only mesora" or "only Tanach" or "only Hebrew" even though it's not what my or dh's family does as minhag according to our family tree, but here I'm perplexed.

I know at least one Syrian Rachelle btw. Strong Syrian. a quick google gives me another one Smile http://www.sfgate.com/news/art.....293885.php Wink
Tamar had a pretty hard life, too. In fact most avos and imaos...

I miss olden times when you stam named and if you asked the rebbe rarely would say "no you can't name for your grandma"...
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 12:29 pm
Scrabble123 wrote:
1. Is derived from lashon kodesh
2. Has a long standing mesorah as a name.

Not sure why people are getting nasty in this thread.

Shira is also derived from lashon hakodesh.

Do you know how mesora starts? By someone choosing to name their child that name.

This certainly isn't the only generation to use the name Shira (or Tehila or Elan or....).
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 12:39 pm
saw50st8 wrote:
Shira is also derived from lashon hakodesh.

Do you know how mesora starts? By someone choosing to name their child that name.

This certainly isn't the only generation to use the name Shira (or Tehila or Elan or....).

Yes, Shira is Lashon Kodesh, but it does not have a long standing mesorah as a name. Spanish Ladino names have been used longer. I mean of course it's possible someone decided to name their child Shira 2,000 years ago, and if that would be your grandparent, then you'd obviously have a personal mesorah and I guess we'd all know that it has been used as a name. I never met anyone named Shira and I have no idea how long names like Shira, Tehilla, and Elan have been used for. I have heard that Yafa which exists in Lashon HaKodesh was a name that he suggested replacing with Shaina/Shaindel (again, this is not first hand - I don't even know people who follow his shitta).

I also hope that you realize that when Chana named her son Shmuel it was very different than a parent making the name Liat. Parents have ruach hakodesh, but there was something so special and deep that does not exist today. I stated several times my opinion on names: parents should name their kids as they please, Ajax included. I none the less can still understand the cocnept because why some people believe certain names should not be used. You obviously do not agree and hold differently, but I'm sure you're capable of understanding, similarly to how I understand your point view too which is why if you're trying to argue with you your point is moot: I agree with you, I understand her, and I agree and understand with him too. Not everything has to be understood in black and white, and his opinion on the name shira does not take away from someone Shira.

Last edited by Scrabble123 on Mon, Apr 27 2015, 1:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 12:44 pm
I noticed a few ppl on this thread mentioned "Tehila" as one of the no-no names.
As far as I know, Rabbi Kanievsky has not mentioned an issue with that name.
Unless he has and I didn't hear of it??
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 1:16 pm
My dh's ruv has a daughter, say, named Tova on her papers, but on ketuba etc it's Gitta!

That said I would like to read a full list of "nonos", if there is a clear one?
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 1:57 pm
interesting article:
This post is longer than usual. The length results from dialogue with readers that I incorporated into the post. As far as basic structure, it is very simple, as follows:
1. Are modern Hebrew names acceptable to our Gedolim. (It goes without saying that Modern Orthodox authorities are in favor of these names. I am focusing the group I consider myself part of, the Old world Yeshiva Orthodox, or what the booboisie calls Hareidim or Ultra-Orthodox.)
2. The difference between modern Hebrew names and non-Jewish names.
3. Harav Kanievsky's opinion
a. Three explanations for this opinion
4. Rav Moshe Feinstein's opinion
5. English and Hebrew lists of Hebrew names, both traditional and modern.


May a parent give a child a modern Hebrew name, a name that has not been used before? Or are we obliged to choose a name from Tanach or other long standing tradition?

This post does not address non-Hebrew names. We discussed that here, where we reproduced and commented upon an article written by Dr. Steven Oppenheimer. There is an obvious difference between modern Hebrew names which are clearly associated with the Jewish people, and non-Jewish names, which might be a sign of assimilation. Right now we're focusing on non-traditional Hebrew names.

I titled this piece "Modern names for children" because I'm thinking of the name parents give a child- the name you use when you get an aliyah or the first name with which you identify yourself in a document. Of course one can choose for himself a different name for other purposes. Many people acquire or give themselves a name that is entirely unrelated to the name they were given at the bris/aliyah, even Jewish names that are different than their given name. As the Medrash (קהלת רבה פ"ז) says, every person has three names; one that his parents give him, one that his associates give him, and one that is written in Heaven in his book of creation.
"שלשה שמות נקראו לאדם. אחד שיקראו לו אביו ואמו אחד שקראו לו אחרים ואחד שקרוי לו בספר תולדות ברייתו".
But I am talking about what we think of as the "official" name.

Harav Chaim Kanievsky's opinion

Rav Chaim Kanievsky famously refuses to give a bracha to a person with a non-traditional name. His adamant and strongly expressed opinion is documented in several books, including ויקרא שמו בישראל, and שמות בארץ, and שמא גרים. One very well known example of his position is his reaction to the name Shira. When asked to give a bracha to a person with that name, his reaction is always the same- Shira is not a name, and the real name is Sarah. Not only does he deny the validity of such names, but he says that names of modern coinage are null and void, and don't need to be changed to a proper name. They don't exist. All you need to do it choose an appropriate name. He has told Shiras that their name is Sarah, he has told an Eliran that his name is Elchanan Eliahu, and he told a Zohar that his name is Meir.

This is how the author of Sheimos Ba'aretz quotes Reb Chaim.
האם נראה לכם שכדאי שבפרשת מצורע, נקרא לבננו בשם 'מצורע'? או שבפרשת פרה נקרא לבת בשם 'פרה' ?", תהה מרן הגר"ח קניבסקי שליט"א, "ואם כן, מדוע בשבת שירה קוראים לבת 'שירה'?"ה...
If you had a boy in the week of Parshas Metzora, would you name him "Metzora?" If you had a girl during Parshas Parah, would you name her "Parah?" So why would someone call a girl born during the week of Shabbas Shira "Shira?"
Rav Chaim holds that the only names that are valid are the names in Tanach or in Even Ezer siman 129.

Again from Reb Chaim: the gist of it is, as he is quoted saying, ' "והנה שמות שהמשוגעים המציאו, יש לבטלם לגמרי" which means that he disapproves of neologisms and wishes they would be completely eliminated.

שאלו את הגר"ח מהו ההבדל בין השמות המודרניים, מכל השמות של האמוראים שנקראו בארמית, וכל נשות ישראל בכל הדורות נקראו בשמות באידיש, ומה ההבדל בין אידיש לעברית? וזאת ועוד, שהגמרא (יומא יא, ב) אומרת ששמותיהם של רוב היהודים בחו"ל הם משמות גויים, ורק על שמו של רשע מצאנו בגמרא (יומא לח, ב) שאין ראוי לקרוא על שמו? והשיב ע"כ הגר"ח קניבסקי: "שמות שמצאנו שכתוב בגמרא, שהתנאים והאמוראים נקראו בהם, אפשר לקוראם. אבל להוציא שמות חדשים, כמו שיש היום זה לא ראוי", והגר"ח הצביע על דברי המדרש שהבאנו לעיל. ועדיין דעתם של השואלים לא היתה נוחה מהענין והצביעו על כך שבדורות התנאים והאמוראים התחדשו כל הזמן שמות חדשים ובערי אשכנז היו קוראים תמיד בשמות חדשים, לפי השפה המדוברת, וגם בערי ארצות המזרח קראו היהודים לילדיהם בשמות מקומיים. ועל כך השיב הגר"ח שליט"א: "מה שמצינו בדורות הקודמים שקראו מדעת עצמם, כנראה היה להם סיבות שקראו, ועל זה אין קושיה. אבל מה שבזמנינו קוראים שמות מדעת עצמם, אין לה ראוי לעשות. חז"ל אומרים לקרוא על שם אבותינו, ומה שהם קראו שמות אחרים, היתה להם סיבה אחרת. אבל סתם להמציא שמות, זה לא היה אף פעם ותמיד היה טעם לזה. כל השמות היו מאבותינו או מאבות אבותיהם, אבל לא מהגויים. היו שמות שהתחלפו מהגויים, אבל חלילה להמציא שמות".

The first question everyone asks is "What about Rav Kanievsky's name, "Chaim?" Where do we find in Tanach or Shas that someone was named Chaim?

Reb Chaim was asked this question, and he answered that we find this name in a Teimani Medrash. כמדומה באיזה ממדרשי תימן הקטנים .

However, we don't really know anything about the provenance of these Teimani Medrashim. As Eli put it,
.....some of these Midrashim are actually compilations, ~1000 or less years old, so this could be as old as R. Chayim the Tosafist, or maybe even Rabbeinu Vidal of Toulouse (a.k.a. מגיד משנה).
Saint Vivian was a French bishop who lived during the Visigoth invasion of the 5th century. Around the same time, Flavius Vivianus was a consul of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Eli mentioned Rabbeinu Vidal and, lehavdil, Saint Vivian, because the names Vidal and Vivian both mean life, as does Chaim. There are many names for Life- for women, this includes Chaya, Chava, Vita, Vida, and Zoe.

But Eli later wrote that he found a reliable source for the name "Chaim."
I found an earlier use of Chayim: the Sura Gaon Rav Tzamach bar Rav Chayim (d. 895 approx), probably pre-dates the unnamed midrash from Teiman.

I don't know for a fact why Rav Kanievsky feels so strongly about this issue. When a parent names a child, the name is the product of love and deep emotion (especially the mother's,) and if he denies a parent's right to give voice to such intimate and deep feelings, I am sure that he has a good reason. Nothing in this article should be misconstrued as disrespectful to Harav Kanievsky. Anything he says would be at home in the Beis Medrash of Ravina and Rav Ashi. I can only speculate and suggest possible explanations.

1. The Medrash (Breishis 37:7) says that those generations that had Ruach HaKodesh would give their child a name that was informed by their destiny. We, that do not have Ruach HaKodesh, just give names of our ancestors to our children.

"ולעבר יולד שני בנים שם האחד פלג כי בימיו נפלגה הארץ" רבי יוסי ורשב"ג רבי יוסי אומר הראשונים על ידי שהיו מכירים את ייחוסיהם היו מוציאין שמן לשם המאורע אבל אנו שאין אנו מכירים את ייחוסינו אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו רשב"ג אומר הראשונים על ידי שהיו משתמשין ברוח הקודש היו מוציאין לשם המאורע אבל אנו שאין אנו משתמשין ברוח הקודש אנו מוציאין לשם אבותינו א"ר יוסי בן חלפתא נביא גדול היה עבר שהוציא לשם המאורע הה"ד ולעבר יולד שני בנים וגו'
Perhaps, based on that Medrash, there are only those two options. Either you have ruach hakodesh or you name after an ancestor. No other option is valid.

2. The Zohar and the Gemara in Yoma and the Rogotchover I've mentioned in the parts one and two of this series can be read to imply that a name influences a person's personality. If so, one cannot risk making up a name, because he has no way of knowing what kind of influence this name will have.

3. Perhaps HaRav Kanievsky holds like that because he feels that such names are a symptom of cultural anomie, like Latisha and Shaniqua and Shonda, and that he holds that the symptom aggravates the underlying problem, and that fighting the symptom will mitigate the problem.

Eli's comments here responding to these explanations need to be in the main body of the post:
1. I don't think the late 9th century Chayim is much more of a source than the 12th century R. Chayim. It only pre-dates the invention of the name (actually, the adoption of a Goyische name).
2. R.Ch.K saying modern coinages are null and void, and don't need to be changed is really nothing but strong rhetoric, as there is no formal process for changing a name, proper or not. The real test for his position would be if he would ignore a Get with a "null and void" name, or better, approve a Get with the "correct" Sara instead of the "null and void" Shira, before waiting 30 days as one should do for a regular name change.
3. R. Yossi in Medrash cannot be used to support R.Ch.K. position, as we know for a fact names were invented much after R. Yossi's generation. All the sources for names affecting destiny are not strong enough against our Mesorah to invent names, and adopt Goyische names if they sound right. Ask Rabbi Bon.
4. Naming your son Shakil is not the same, in terms of Jewish identity, as naming him Tal or Zohar. I can see reasons to oppose the latter names, but based solely on לא שינו את שמם, using Zohar is much more distinctive than Yaacov (to be changed to Jacob in the workplace).
Regarding Eli's point 2, I should mention that Rabbi Meir Peikus just told me that when his son got married, the mesader kiddushin was Rav Aharon Shechter of Chaim Berlin. They sat down to write the tna'im, and his mechutan told Rav Shechter that the Kallah's name was Ilana Rus. Rav Shechter gave him a really hard time- Ilana is not a name! What kind of name is Ilana? Rabbi Peikus said that even if it is a taina, it's a taina that is twenty one years late. They finally got Rav Shechter to move on by noting that at least her second name was Rus.
Regarding his fourth point, of course he's right. A distinctive Hebrew name separates and identifies us as Jewish more than the common biblical names which are just as often used by non-Jews. I would say that Reb Chaim views them as a product of Am Yisrael, not of Mesoras Yisrael- nationalistic rather than religious. More importantly, and I think this is undeniably true, is that the tremendous increase in this kind of neologism since the advent of Zionism can be reasonably interpreted- in most cases- as a rejection of the Galus identity and an emphatic declaration (I would say asseveration) of the identity of "The New Jew."

Eli responded
I understand one can oppose modern names as a way to separate from modern Jews (religious and non-religious alike), or as demonstration of embracing the old-world as a reaction to the idea of the New Jew. לא שינו את שמם cannot be used as a source for that, only an inspiration.

Lest you, the reader, go away thinking that we're grasping at straws in suggesting a "movement" that wishes to recast Jewish identity, here are two illustrations of the idea of the creation of the "New Jew." Against this background, Harav Kanievsky's opinion becomes more understandable.

From the World Zionist Organization website:
For some Zionists, especially the East European Jewish intellectuals, Zionism was not only a national movement committed to the establishment of a Jewish homeland. It also wished to create a modern, secular Jewish identity. According to this formulation it was not religion that was to provide the basis for Jewish identity but ethnicity and nationalism. The Hebrew language, the land of Israel, Jewish history, literature, customs, folklore and their interplay were to provide a new more open-ended paradigm for Jewish identity.
From historian Rabbi Ken Spiro's essay on Modern Zionism:
The key factor which shaped their [secular Zionist thinkers] worldview was a nationalism based not only on the notion of creating a physical Jewish homeland, but also of creating a new kind of Jew to build and maintain this homeland. Many of these early Zionist thinkers felt that centuries of ghettoization and persecution had robbed the Jews of their pride and strength. To build a homeland required a proud, self-sufficient Jew: a Jew who could farm, defend himself, and build the land.The pious, poor, ghettoized Jew—who presented a pathetic image of a man stooped-over and always at the mercy of his persecutors—had to be done away with. To build a state required something all-together different—a “Hebrew.” The early Zionists called themselves “Hebrews” and not Jews, and deliberately changed their German or Russian or Yiddish names to sound more Hebraic and nationalistic (for example, David Gruen became David Ben-Gurion. Shimon Persky became Shimon Perez). It was a deliberate attempt to create a totally new Jewish identity and rid themselves of any aspect of the religious, Diaspora Jewish identity…These early Zionist leaders knew of course that religion had preserved Jewish identity in the ghettos and shtetls of Europe, but in the modern Jewish state, they felt there would be no need for it. Of course the Bible would be used as a source of Jewish history and culture but there was no room for religion or ritual in the modern Jewish state.

I would only add that not everyone that names their daughter Shira intends a militant rejection of tradition. One of my daughters in law is a Shira, and her parents are fine upstanding Lakewood people. My niece's name is Yonit and her fathers for at least four generations back have been roshei yeshiva. Rav Gifter named his daughter Shlomis to celebrate the end of WW II, and not after Ms. Divri. I think this is an Eretz Yisrael thing, a land where everything becomes political and polarized. If you need a bracha for someone that has a modern name, go to someone other than HaRav Kanievsky.

And let us emphasize

Reb Moshe Feinstein's opinion

Although we began with Harav Kanievsky's opinion, most communities follow Reb Moshe Feinstein's much milder approach.

His Teshuvos on this issue are in EH 3:35. OC 4:66, and OC 5:10. The gist of what he says is that lechatchila, a name should reflect our Jewish heritage. Non-Jewish names are very inappropriate and would never be approved of by Gedolei Yisrael.
עצם הדבר שמשנים את שמותיהם לשמות נכרים וודאי הוא דבר מגונה מאוד .... אבל איסור ממש לא מצינו בזה Reb Moshe does not say that it had no validity as a name for the first person that had it, just that it was wrong for the person that named him to give a non-Jewish name. Furthermore, once a person was given such a name, it becomes kosher for his or her descendants, because that person's children should honor and perpetuate the original bearer of the name.

He proposes that the value of לא שינו was only when that was the only flag of identity, which wouldn't apply after Mattan Torah, because now the Taryag mitzvos adequately distinguish us, but he says he is not sure that this rationale is reliable le'halacha. He therefore strongly discourages giving names that are not part of the Jewish heritage.

Reb Moshe does not even address modern Hebrew names. He only talks about the legitimacy and appropriateness of non-Jewish names, but his criticisms of non-Jewish names would not apply to modern Hebrew names.

On the other hand, when Reb Moshe's daughter in law wanted to name her daughter Aviva, after an Avraham, Reb Moshe said that Aviva doesn't make any sense. It's not a word- it's either Aviv or it doesn't mean anything. So he said that if you want to name a girl after an Avraham, you should name her Ahuva, because the Hei is the most important letter.

Along those lines, I also would add that, as I mention in the comments, I have a very hard time with feminized theophoric names. For example: Gavriel is a compound word comprising Gevura and El, Strength and God. El is God. God is expressed in the male gender. To call someone Gavrielah is a gender change which , in my opinion, is bizarre and grotesque. I don't buy the explanation that the name is given to remember a person named Gavriel. One must remember the original source of the name, and not do violence to its meaning.

An Afterword

Finally, I want to put in a comment that someone wrote in when I posted this in an earlier form. I'm putting it in here mostly because I like the forthright manner and the tone of his comment. I don't necessarily agree that his point applies to all of our sub-groups, but it's a shrewd observation.

shimonmatisyahu said...Look, as per some of the past comments, I don't know when the name Shira began being used. But what I do know, such as with my ancestry, while the boys were given regular one or two Hebrew names, the girls were thrown some Yiddish sounding word as a name that really had no meaning to it. Another difference of naming between genders that I have seen is that tons of girls are named Chava, but it is rare to find a guy in the frum world with the name Odom, because "it is not a name of a Yid". So another words, since females aren't looked upon as holy as males, it is OK to call them Chava even if the first Chava wasn't Jewish, but a "Ben Torah" should not be given the "goyishe" name Odom.
Basically, what he saying is that while a boy's name is given serious thought, because he embodies the family's honor and he needs to present a public image of authority and strength, some people name daughters like they name their pets.

Lists of Modern Hebrew Names

A very nice list in English is available here. This list is a section of a massive collection of names from many cultures and nationalities. A similar list in Hebrew, which includes and labels both modern and traditional names, is available here.
Posted by Eliezer Eisenberg at 5/28/2013 12:05:00 PM
Labels: Jewish Names, Names
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Post  Mon, Apr 27 2015, 2:09 pm
Very interesting (even though as an Italian-by-marriage, I can't reject Gabriella type names :p more seriously I also contantly see Raphaelle, Joelle... here in France).

I think this is an Eretz Yisrael thing, a land where everything becomes political and polarized.

This may be one of the answers, one of the things that I always "block" about lol

If you need a bracha for someone that has a modern name, go to someone other than HaRav Kanievsky.

Call me idealist I say it shouldn't matter. I've known rabbis giving brachos to non jews too.
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