The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 20 December 2008 / 23 Kislev 5769

Hold Back That Name

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

A renowned young Torah scholar in Bnei Brak passed away, leaving behind a widow and many orphans.

A short while after his passing a boy was born to his son. As the family prepared for the brit mila it was assumed by all that the child would be named for his recently deceased grandfather. Surprisingly, however, this widowed mother had other ideas. The night before the brit she asked her son what name he intended to call his child. When he informed her that the name would be that of his father she burst into tears and said that she was opposed. To her shocked son she explained that if the child would bear her husband's name, every time she would see her grandchild she would be reminded of her tragedy and would cry.

When the question of what to do was posed to HaGaon Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, he ruled that the mother's objection be respected. In regard to giving a name for the father, this would constitute honoring a parent, something which is done even after death. But in regard to the widow, the issue is causing pain. Whenever one must choose between giving honor or causing pain, he concluded, the decision must be in favor of avoiding causing pain.

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