May I Name my Child After a Non-Frum Parent?



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    May I Name my Child After a Non-Frum Parent?

    The halachah is that “Lo maskinan bishmayhu” of reshaim (one may not name someone after a wicked person), since the fate they deserve is that their name be forgotten. Often, however, this halachah presents a conflict to baalei teshuvah who nevertheless wish to honor their nonobservant parents’ memory. Written by Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights • Full Article

    Written by Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights

    The halachah is that “Lo maskinan bishmayhu” of reshaim (one may not name someone after a wicked person), since the fate they deserve is that their name be forgotten. Often, however, this halachah presents a conflict to baalei teshuvah who nevertheless wish to honor their nonobservant parents’ memory by naming their children after them.

    The halachah is that naming their children after their parents is permissible, in view of the following:

    • Today’s nonobservant Jews generally have the status of tinokos shenishbu (lit. children who were captured, i.e. they are nonobservant through no fault of their own).
    • Death constitutes a measure of kaparah (atonement) for the deceased parents.
    • Naming a child after their parent is being done specifically in order to fulfill the mitzvah of kibbud av va’eim (honoring one’s parent).

    However, one might want to add another name in cases like these. It should also be noted that this exemption would not apply to naming one’s child after other nonobservant relatives, unless one has in mind that the name is also being given in memory of an observant person with the same name.

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