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Whose Side to Name After?

We are God willing expecting our first child, a boy, in about two months. My husband and I are not able to come to terms on the name. We would both like to name after our own grandfather. Mine passed away recently and I was very close to him. His died many years ago and he had almost no connection to him. As a compromise, I suggested we take both grandparents’ names, but he is not happy with that either. What should we do?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

First of all, mazal tov on the upcoming birth! May all go well and in the right time.

Needless to say, I cannot give you a definitive answer. Really the most important thing is that it not become a cause of strife and upset. Thus, it would be better to give in than to fight over a name, even if yours is theoretically the better choice.

With that said, I will make a few comments, apropos to your situation.

(1) The more common custom is to name the first child after the mother’s side – and then to switch off after that.

(2) It is certainly nicer to name after a relative you had a personal relationship with, but any relative who was a good person is a fine candidate, and deserves to be named after.

(3) There are authorities who frown on naming after two people together, as that is not really naming after anyone (Orchat Rabbeinu (Chazon Ish) I 249). Many do do this, but I would not suggest this as the first choice.

Thus, all else being equal, your grandparent would be the best choice. However, if your husband is adamant, it is not worth pushing the matter. Use his grandfather’s name (only), and in the merit of your agreeability, I am sure you will merit to name another child after your side in good time.

Mazal tov again!

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