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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Lech Lecha  

Name Calling

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Rav Moshe Zev Granek

November 3, 2022


And the people of Sdom were wicked and sinful toward Hashem, exceedingly.

Bereishis 13:13

Rashi comments that Chazal associated with this pasuk the idea that “vesheim resha’im yirkav” (the name of the wicked shall rot—Mishlei 10:7). Chazal also say that one should not name a child after a rasha (Yoma 38b). Tosafos, Tosafos Yeshanim, and the Ritva appear to understand this as an actual issur, and they ask how the tana R’ Yishmael was named after the rasha Yishmael.[1]  

Tosafos (Ksubos 104b) asks how a tana in the Mishnah could be named Shevna, a rasha in the time of Yeshayah (as evident from the Gemara in Sanhedrin). Rabeinu Tam answers that the Mishnah should read Shachna, not Shevna. But the Ri (Tosafos, Shabbos 12b) answers based on other psukim that there was a different Shevna who was a tzadik.

The Hafla’ah writes (Ksubos 104b) that Rabeinu Tam agrees that one may give a child a common name even if a rasha was among those who bore it, he just maintains that an uncommon name originally borne by a well-known rasha should not be given to a child.


[1] Some of the answers given to this question are that Yishmael did teshuvah, and that because Hashem gave Yishmael his name, we may use it. Rabeinu Chananel says there is no prohibition; the Gemara is only recommending not to use the name of a rasha, because it may cause a person not to have good mazal.

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