Selling a Baby's Name

For $20,000 would you sell the right to name your baby?

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Comments (25)

(25) tzipschum, November 24, 2011 5:13 AM

SURE, and why NOT?

In this case MONEY might be exchanged in other cases it is a family obligation or sign of gratitude yet always an exchange. So why not money?

(24) Anonymous, November 24, 2011 1:45 AM

selling baby's name

My mother tells me that in Hungary, prior to WW II, it was fairly common to receive money from strangersto name a child after their relative.

(23) Anonymous, November 23, 2011 4:28 PM

a big mitzvah

I know three couples who did this. The names are fine Jewish names, after fine people. The families were very poor, and the money helped them very much . Those who paid the money found some consolation for the loss of their loved one. The soul of the person got continuation in this world. So it was a win-win situation all around. The three babies are now all very fine, frum parents. So what's the problem?

(22) Anonymous, November 23, 2011 10:53 AM

oh this is one of my hot topics - relatives ie. grandparents of the couple (and im sure in plenty of cases the parens of th couple) feel they have the right to force the couple or BRIBE them or nag and harrass them to give a certain name. or at least give their oppinion. sorry, its the parents honour to name their baby, i think if the mom carried the baby for nine months then that alone makes her deserving of giving the name. thats actually why being jewish is inherited from the mother. budding in just causes stress at a time when the couple is trying to adjust to a new baby. it is nice to name after someone if they choose to, it is also a chessed to leave the couple alone not be mean and harrass them. its their baby. and according to torah the couple is actually given prophesy when choosing the name of their baby so relatives stop interfering. if the couple chooses to let someone name the baby, thats their choice . personally i would not want to , but i dont know the couple's financial state...

(21) Anonymous, November 23, 2011 7:06 AM


It is not all right to sell a persons name. It is the parents right to name their baby and it is sacred for any price.

(20) chayah, November 23, 2011 2:38 AM

Dear Rabbi-----

Mazel Tov on the birth of your new grandson....May he have a long and healthy life filled with joy! May he be blessed with a good name for all the days of his life and may you be around for years and years of kvelling and kluging nachas!

(19) Stephen Berr, November 22, 2011 11:20 PM

This is like the joke about the Lord's Prayer

There is an old joke about Budweiser approaching the Poke and asking him to change the line in the Lord's Prayer to say :Give us this day our daily Bud". After much handling, with the offer approaching 100 million dollars, the Pope says "This is most unusual, let me pray on this". As soon as the Budweiser rep is gone, the Pope calls his secretary and asks "How long is our contract with Stroehman Bread?"

(18) Anonymous, November 22, 2011 9:08 PM

wish I had thought of that

I have many grandsons & not one of my children gave a name for my beloved grandfather. Not even as a middle name. Wish I had thought to offer a monetary gift. Maybe next time.

(17) leah, November 22, 2011 9:04 PM

accepting a monetary gift is not selling

If a couple names a baby after a great grandparent or other relative & the grandparents give a monetary gift is that selling? if someone approaches a couple to ask them to name after a loved one that otherwise wouldn't get a name, that is definitely not selling your baby's name. That is a chesed for which you are given money. What a lovely gesture!

(16) Dan, November 22, 2011 8:57 PM

Mazel Tov!

Kishaim shenichnas labris, kain yikanais l'Torah, l'chupah ul'maasim tovim. I've heard of people without children asking to "buy" names before. If people decide to name a child after someone in order to get paid for it, it's not a good "omen" for the baby. Although Jews aren't subject to 'signs', selling any aspect of the baby's future for greed is wrong. The name actually belongs to the baby, so you're in a sense selling something that you have no right to. If someone is, however, desperate for money, that's another matter entirely. I would change the terms though, and suggest that it was to invest in the child's future, with the name as a "sign" or token of the agreement. If someone is asked to name their child after someone and the individual is willing to pay for it, to do it as an act of chessed, I'd say it was a mitzva and there's nothing wrong with it. Not only are you giving the opportunity for the name to live on, you're giving someone the opportunity to help in the raising of a child, so you're giving them the opportunity to do a mitzva. You may also be improving the quality of life of that person, and starting the child's life off with an extra mitzva. Besides, a child (or anyone) can never have too many people praying for their well being.

(15) Anonymous, November 22, 2011 7:32 PM

It's been done

A prominent Bnei-brak family just sold their unborn son's name to help them meet their financial obligations. They first made sure that the name to be given was after someone who had been a good person and who had no one to name after him.

(14) ruth housman, November 22, 2011 6:32 PM

what's in a name?

would say, Everything. I would also say, that G_d names us and we are being channeling the Source, all of us. Without exceptions. Maybe this is very difficult to understand, but at the deepest level this is true. At this level, the level of our lives, in the now, we must think about these ethical dilemmas. We're here to do this. My father, who died, just before Thanksgiving some years ago, always posed these conundrums, and some of them, were too agonizing for me, as in, which would you rather, be deaf, or, blind? Names are about our souls, and I say, and others too, do say this, and that is: we are actualizing the potentials of our names. Ancient Jewish tradition held it that when someone was desperately ill, without known cure, it was all right to change their names, as destiny is connected to names and naming. Some still follow this practice. As to COKE, we say, "it's the real thing." I say this to myself often when I see the Coke trucks that are so ubiquitous. I say, "Ruth, YOU are, the Real Thing". I say this because my life is dominated by visible constant astonishment of connects via story and I am recording this, and it means, we are all in this together. My husband moved into the Koch building, pronounced, Coke, and some say, this Koch did some things not everyone approves of, and others they do. And they call this Biology building sometimes, The Real Thing. Do things go better with Coke? It's a classic story and I am almost finished teaching children's classic stories, a course called Re Tale Therapy. Tell me, who wrote this script? Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Give Thanks for being here, at this time. I do. We are so fortunate. Another sunset. A child's laughter. A good meal among friends.

(13) philip zimmerman, November 22, 2011 4:57 PM

It all depends on circumstances; will the money help a poor family; is the name to be given coming from a worthy person; will the parents of the child resent him/her later in life because of that name. There is not a single answer to this question.

(12) Rosally Saltsman, November 22, 2011 4:38 PM

Mazal To on the new grandson, ad 120!

I loved some of the stories that came to light in response to this question. They're lovely examples of how the Jewish people care so much about one another. And that's a name to be proud of!

(11) chava, November 22, 2011 4:12 PM

It can be chesed from both sides.

The comments about people who helped young couples financially and the couple named their baby as the people requested show that it doesn't have to be an ugly thing. Those situations were totally different than your example of Aish haPepsi. In those cases, perhaps the people would have been willing to name the baby as requested even without money. And perhaps the other people would have been willing to help support the family even without the name. You made it sound crass and commercial (and I suppose it could be.) But it also could be a beautiful thing, a thing of chesed --- from both sides. The baby could grow up proud of its name and why it was given to them.

(10) Anonymous, November 22, 2011 2:57 PM

I think they should do it for free.

If the couple doesn't have someone they need to name for....I think if someone makes a sincere request that they name after someone who was a good jew..then they should do it. Think of what a mitzvah it would be..and what a chesed to the person who asked. It's better than just making up a name if they have no one to name for. If they absolutely hate the name they could use it as a middle name.

(9) Anonymous, November 22, 2011 2:54 PM


if it is a Shoa victim and a good name, why not. The money would not be important to me, might be to some other people. I thought of those our family lost when I named my daughter

(8) Anonymous, November 22, 2011 11:11 AM

I don't think it is right, but if it is between that and the baby not surviving because of poverty (obviously an extreme example), it might be the right thing to do. Each case will be different depending on the circumstances.

(7) $50.00 for my name....., November 22, 2011 10:59 AM

Hakol Hevel.....

These days when $$$ can purhaps save a life or help starving children...then yes, why not.

(6) Yakov, November 22, 2011 6:28 AM

About 20 years ago,I had a friend that was married for a short time that had a child.Both he and his wife were from families with no money at all.They were totally on their own,and wanted desperatly to learn for a while in kolel.An individual approached them and offered them what would be enough money for them to live on for one year, if they would name the child after his late wife,who died childless.They were torn about it as one would imagine.After researching the woman,and finding out she was a good religous jew,they named the child after her.I asked him how he would explain this one day to his daughter.He answered me,that he would tell her the truth."Becuse of you Abba and Imma were able to live a kolel life for another year,and our family has that as part of us forever ,and it is only thanks to you".He learned in kolel for that year,and when the money ran out he got a job,and eventually became very successful.Boruch hashem he gives generously of his money to tzedokas,and is a solid ben torah.He has never regreted his decision,and even though his children grew up with everything,they know this story,and it has kept them grounded.It reminds them of where they came from,how much Hashem gave them,and where their priorities are.He made the right choice,and is reaping the dividends to this day.

(5) Dovid, November 21, 2011 6:45 PM

baby's name

I heard of an elderly childless man who offered quite a bit of money to someone who would name their child after his wife who had recently passed away. This couple checked into who she had been, found out that she was a really fine person, someone actually quite special in many ways and decided to do a chesed for this man and also they needed the money very badly and named their child after his wife. What's wrong with that? Actually a couple of years later they named a baby boy after him, truely "chesed shel emes" , because he wasn't around anymore to pay them this time.

(4) Anonymous, November 21, 2011 4:40 PM


A holocaust survivor approached a woman who was expecting and said. "If you would name your unborn child after my father, who was an honest upright learned Jew, who was killed by the Nazi's and has no namesake in the world... I would give you a sizeable donation to help bring up the child.... This story is still not your typical way of naming a baby - but perhaps puts "selling a baby's name" into a different light.

(3) tania, November 21, 2011 2:35 AM


i dont think its ok, the name is the mazal of the babies life

(2) Chavi, November 21, 2011 2:31 AM

Who's going to buy a baby's name? On a building you at least get to see your name displayed in bold lettering. It's not like the kid is gonna spend his life wearing a placard around his neck announcing: " Hi! My name is..." Here's what I envision: Baby's father: "I'm opening the bidding for the baby's name." Mother's father: "The baby has to be named after my father,Chaim Yankel Berel Shmerel Moshe Ari Shmiel, who was a very big tzadik. I bid $150." Father's dad: "No, the baby has to be named after my father. The baby even looks like him - totally bald! I bid $250." Mother's Dad: "Well, he wasn't really such a big tzaddik. For $250 you can have it." Baby's father: "Sold for $250! Now, who wants to bid on Sandek?"

(1) Anonymous, November 20, 2011 3:21 PM


Rabbi, thank you for always giving us opportunities to think about current matters as they relate to us. Up until recently, there was no separation between the thing and the word which designated the thing (Hebrew excluded). Then Saussure came along and changed all that. The other view, is that the word and the thing, are the same, in some sense. So, a word identifies an aspect of the thing named. If we take the latter view, then naming a baby is important. We assume that as parents we, better than a stranger, knows that child, and we name the child accordingly. This works even with the practices based on naming children after grandparents etc., we believe. The other way is to say that the name is divorced from the person. (We have seen football players call themselves strange names recently.) Again, there is a separation between thing and word. This does not mean that there cannot be a change in name if circumstances change. We have examples of that (Abraham). So, thinking this through, I think does matter if our parents name their children. I think that names do define us. "We have been called." Israel has been called. So, if the parents have a choice between several names and they choose 1 then I suppose they are still choosing. But, if they have 1 name and they do not like it then they have to make a choice. That is my two cents.


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