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Name Change

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Topic: Adding a Name

Name@Withheld wrote,

Dear Rabbi,

Unfortunately, my wife is now seriously ill with cancer. With the guidance of our Rabbi we added a second name for her (from Pninah bat Leah to Pninah Tamar bat Leah). Would you be so kind to explain this "addition" to your readers and, if I am not imposing, offer a "Mishebarach" [prayer] for her. Thank you.

Dear Name@Withheld,

The Talmud states that four things have the power to change a person's fortune: Giving charity, praying, changing your behavior (teshuva), and changing your name. The Talmud explains that only after Sarah's name was changed (from Sarai to Sarah) did she become pregnant and bear Yitzchak. The Talmud considers a fifth possibility, that of changing one's location.

Changing one's name symbolizes a powerful resolve to better one's behavior. It's like saying "I'm not the same person who used be lax about mitzvah observance." This earnest desire to improve one's ways is then counted in the person's merit.

May Hashem grant your wife, Pninah Tamar bat Leah, a complete and speedy recovery.


  • Tractate Rosh Hashana 16b

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