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Ask the Aish Rabbi a Question

Recent Questions:

Bicycles on Shabbat

I am in a new city and last Shabbat I decided to go to synagogue for services. After looking one up and calling to get the address, I found that it was far from where I was staying. I have no car and depend solely on walking or riding my bike.

Well, I decided to try my bike anyway because it was far, and I thought that a flat tire could never happen... Yeah, right! I got stuck half-way there with a flat tire that I had no idea what to do in the middle of a town I did not know. When finally some people helped me fix it, it was too late for services... Next week I will try to go to services again, but this time with no bike.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Actually, bicycles should not be ridden on Shabbat. There are three reasons why:

1) Perhaps one will repair the bicycle, such as a flat tire, or the chain might fall off. There is a concern that the chain might fall off, or the tire might get flat, and one would come to repair the bike on Shabbat. This is would be considered "making the bike anew" on Shabbat, which is one of the creative activities we refrain from on Shabbat. ("Tzitz Eliezer" 7:30)

2) Because of "Uvdin D'Chol," i.e - a weekday activity. (Code of Jewish Law - OC 327, with Mishnah Berurah 7)

3) On a bicycle, it is common to travel a distance further than the "Techum," 2000 cubits outside the city. This is forbidden on Shabbat.

In order to guard against these possibilities, we don't ride bikes on Shabbat.

A child's tricycle, which does not have a chain or air-filled tires, and which is not ridden great distances, is permitted on Shabbat.

Changing One’s Name

We named our daughter (now four months) Linor. She is happy and healthy, but her name has always been a source of upset for me. I suffered from terrible post-partum depression, and her name always reminds me of that difficult period. Is there any way we can change her name now, and would that be an appropriate thing to do?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Technically, a person is allowed to change or to add to his name for any reason. Customarily, it is not done unless the person is very sick or was given a non-Jewish name at birth.

The reason we general frown on changing a person’s name is because a person’s name is said to define his essence, to describe the sort of person he is and his spiritual strengths. We generally assume that the name a child was granted at birth most accurately defines his person. There is a Kabbalistic notion that at the child’s naming the parents are given Divine inspiration and choose the best name for his soul. (See Divrei Yechezkel HaCahdash 8, Divrei Yatziv Likutim 102, and Teshuvos V'Hanhagos I 604. This is widely quoted from the great Kabbalist the “Ari,” but there is no known source for this.)

Thus, we generally do not change a name lightly – certainly if it’s only a matter of the parents afterwards deciding they like a different name better. Only if the person was never given a Jewish name or if he becomes deathly ill – in which case we want to assign him a new name and mission in life, which may grant him additional years – would we change his name.

Even so, there are opinions that non-standard or non-traditional names should be changed. Another example is if a name usually associated with boys is given to a girl of vice versa. This is true in particular if a person wants to join a more traditional community and does not want his name to be a source of discomfort and alienation. In general it is better to choose a more standard and accepted name for one’s child, so he or she will never be embarrassed by it.

In your case, it would be fine to add to or to change your daughter’s name partly because it depresses you greatly (not just slightly) and partly because the name, although not non-Jewish, is not a traditional one. There are many beautiful traditional names to choose from. See this page for many choices:

In terms of how to change the name, the best way is to say the special prayer for it which may be found at the end of most books of Tehillim (Psalms). This is best done in your local synagogue, on a day when the Torah is read (typically, Shabbat, Monday and Thursday). The prayer will be said before the entire congregation to properly publicize the change (or addition).

In truth, however, the special prayer is not a must. The main thing – and the actual thing which changes her name – is the fact that everyone begins calling her by the new name instead of the old. When this is done for 30 days, her new name becomes her “real” name – which will be used for example on her Ketubah (marriage contract). Conversely, if people continue to call her by her old name, that will remain her official name until people stop using it (even if some people have begun using the new name, and have done so for 30 days). Therefore, it’s important that you notify all family and friends of the change. (Sources: Shulchan Aruch E.H. 129, Beit Shmuel 33, Igrot Moshe E.H. IV 104.)

Water from the Rock?

I heard that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is leaking and that there is great significance to this event. Can you tell me more?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Rumors have been circulating that a trickle of water has started to flow from under the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount. Media reports say that it is impossible to locate the source or to stop the flow.

According to Jewish tradition, the Foundation Stone is the holiest spot on earth. It is the connection point between Heaven and Earth, and is referred to by the kabbalists as the "umbilical cord." Furthermore, it is the site of the binding of Isaac, and the site of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. (see Pirkei D'Rebbe Eliezer 35)

So what's the significance today?

The Talmud (Yoma 78a) writes that in the Messianic era, water will begin flowing from the Temple Mount. The water, originally a trickle, will gradually increase until it becomes deep enough to immerse the impure. As the prophet says: "On that day there will be a spring opened up for the House of David and for the residents of Jerusalem, for cleansing and for purification." (Zechariah 13:1)

The recent reports are difficult to verify. The Foundation Stone is 13 by 17 meters in size, and it has steps leading down to a large cave. The room around it is even bigger. It would be like asking someone to find a trickle of water in a large convention center.

In the meantime, keep checking the Western Wall Camera ( and let us know if you detect anything!