Choosing a Name for a Baby – part 2

Q: Is it permissible to name a baby after a person who died young?
A: It is customary not to do so. If, however, he died in a plague that took not only his life but many other lives, then his name may be used. Similarly, if a soldier died in the fulfillment of his duty, or a Jew was killed by a terrorist, the name many be used. After all, these are not isolated instances.

Q: Can a non-Jewish name be used?
A: There is no prohibition, but a Jewish name is certainly preferable. As is well-known, our ancestors in Egypt earned praise because they did not change their names but kept Jewish names. Similarly, if someone has a non-Jewish name, it is proper for him to Hebraicize it, but there is no obligation to do so.

Q: Is one permitted to select a name that includes G-d's Name?
A: Yes. For example, when we call a child Michael, we do not mean "Who is like G-d?" (Hebrew: "Mi Ka-El"), it is simply the boy's name.

Q: Is it permissible to give a boy's name to a girl and vice versa?
A: According to the Halachah, there is no prohibition (see Ha-Rav Chaim Kanievski's "Ta'ama De-Kera" pp. 119-121), but it is customary not to do so, and it is appropriate to follow that custom. If it is a name shared by boys and girls, like Simcha or Yona, then there is no problem. One should consider, however, whether it might not be hard for the child in terms of having an unclear gender identity.

Q: Can one give more than one name?
A: Although the Chazon Ish was not in favor of doing so, most authorities permit it and you can give one name, two names or three – it doesn't matter (Shut Teshuvot Ve-Hanhagot 1:606).

Q: If one has troubles in life, should one change one's name?
A: It's written that if a person is seriously ill, it is customary to give him a new name (Yoreh Deah 335:10).

Q: If the parents have a difference of opinion, who decides?
A: They should work it out between them.