Weekly Letter: The Significance of a Jewish Name

In the merit of retaining our Jewish names, clothing and language during the years of our slavery in Mitzrayim, we were worthy to be redeemed. In this letter, the Rebbe addresses the question of changing one’s surname and the significance of a Jewish name. This letter is from volume 5 of The Letter and The Spirit.

By the Grace of G-d
2nd of Shevat, 5740
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Mr.
Warwick Grove
London E.5 9LT, England

Greeting and Blessing:

This is in reply to your letter in which you write that you would like to change your surname to Davidson.

As you surely know, from the viewpoint of the Shulchan Aruch, there is a special significance to the given Hebrew name, but not to the surname, which could therefore be changed if desired. Especially in your case where you wish to change it in a way that would emphasize the Jewish aspect of it. Therefore, it is quite in order and may it be in a happy and auspicious hour.

The above has a special relevance to the Sidras which we have been reading lately, dealing with the golus and Yetzias Mitzrayim. For, as you surely know, our Sages declare that one of the merits of the Jewish people to make them worthy of the deliverance from Egypt was the fact that they did not change their Hebrew names, since thereby they not only preserved their Jewish identity, but also proclaimed it proudly.

There is no need to add that the essential thing is the everyday life and conduct in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch and I trust that your personal names, as well as your adopted surname, will always remind you of your obligations as well as privileges of being a Jew, a true son of our forefathers Avrohom, Yitzchok and Yaakov.

With blessing,

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