Monday, June 25, 2007

What's in a Name? (What's in a Brain?)

Sultan Knish is a tad irked at the latest rabbinical declaration. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's son Avraham took valuable time out from his schedule (wait, what does he do again?) to answer halachic questions on a radio show. Asked by a caller about changing one's name, Yosef the Younger responded:

The rabbi answered that a name must never be changed, though another name can be added to the first name, unless one carries the name of “an evil, indecent figure” like Herzl, the founder of Zionism, or the biblical Nimrod. “One must be careful not to name his children by these names,” Yosef stressed.

Sultan is understandably miffed. He writes,

Had the gaonim who run Shas studied something besides the exchange rate in the Swiss markets, they might know that Herzl is actually a longstanding Jewish name.

A better question might be if you can name your son Shimon Megadef [Idolatry] or Ovadya Yosef. One is reminded of Esav asking about taking Maaser on salt while engaging in wholesale theft, bloodshed and adultery.

But I propose a useful list of alternative names for any Shas voter who wishes to trade in the name of one of the figures who helped build the State of Israel, as off the Derech as he might have been, for a more Shas approved name from the party that has done a lot to destroy the State of Israel.

Oslo and Yasir, for the Oslo process which would not have happened without Shas. Peres, for Shas's rotten godfather. Kesef [money], for the only thing that Shas' leadership has shown itself to care about. Kayin [Cain], for when an accounting is demanded for the blood that has been spilled because of Shas' greed, like Kayin they fold their hands and claim not to know what all this is about.

Not to show my Hebrew ignorance, but when I read that line about Shimon Megadef, I thought of this. Oops.

Ynet helpfully reminds us exactly what it is mini-Yosef does for a living, and just how absurd his comment is.

The rabbi’s ruling, and his statement that Herzl was an evil person, is surprising in light of the fact that Yosef serves as the chief rabbi of the city of Holon on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate – an institution that is affiliated with the State of Israel.

Furthermore, his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is the leader of a political party that is very much involved in the public life of the state.

Oopsies. Oh well, here's hoping the Rabbi's followers don't read Yediot (a pretty safe guess).

Incidentally, I understand why some people might find this upsetting or moronic, but don't be surprised. This isn't the first time. Anyone remember this?

A group of Israeli rabbis has put together a list of names they say should be off-limits to Jewish children — including Ariel and Omri, the given names of Israel's prime minister and his eldest son.

Uttering the name Ariel is problematic because it could beckon an angel namesake instead, drawing down his wrath, they caution.

Omri — the name of an evil biblical king — should be taboo because of the highly negative connotation.

And naming children after dismantled Gaza settlements, like Katif, is another bad idea, they say, because of the controversy involved, they say. Jewish settlers, who are predominantly religious, unsuccessfully opposed the withdrawal.

The rabbis' list, presented in Hebrew on the Internet, also offers preferred names. Rabbis said they compiled the list in response to a flood of requests from parents concerned they may accidentally give their children names that could shame them for life.

What other names raise rabbinical ire? All those that sound non-Jewish — like Donna, Barr and Shirly. So do typically male names given to girls — like Roni and Danielle. Names that include the suffix or prefix "el," which means God in Hebrew.

That's right, better to call your child Shithead rather than risk the angel Ariel whipping them with a pulsa denura. Good thinking there.

And incidentally, geniuses, you wouldn't really have to change Shirly to anything- Shirli is a Hebrew name.

1 comment:

sam said...

I know Hebrew, and I immediately thought of Megadeth. "Simeon Megadeth"—now, there's a Maccabee we could all get behind.

Also, it's only the Yemenites who pronounce it "Shithead". Proper Torah-true Ashkenazim like Moyshe Rabbeinu pronounce it "Shissed" (two syllables, that). If you're a minuval Sefard you'd probably pronounce it "shih-TEED" or something like that. The Yosefs should really know better.