For Jewish parents, the birth of a boy is a joyous time during which their baby is welcomed into the Jewish people through a time-honored, sacred ceremony called the Brit Milah. Performed on the eighth day, this beautiful rite includes the ritual circumcision which is performed as commanded in the Torah. (Leviticus 12:2) The brit serves as an enduring symbol of a Jewish male’s eternal partnership with G-d.
One of the most important moments in the ceremony is the point at which parents give their children his Hebrew name. Since naming a Jewish child has a deep spiritual significance, parents should learn about the meanings and significance of names in preparation for the Brit Milah.
What is the Deeper Significance of a Hebrew Name?
Unlike names in other languages, a Hebrew name actually defines its bearer and speaks to his character traits and identity. Our Sages’ homiletic commentary on the Torah teaches that Adam named every creature in the world based on each creature’s essential qualities. (Midrash Genesis Raba 17:4) In other words, the names Adam gave were descriptive of each creature’s essence. People’s names function in the same way, describing personal character traits and inner qualities.
Below is a list of some popular Boys’ Biblical Names and their meanings in English:
Aharon– mountain, shining
Avraham– father of many nations
Yaakov– held by the heel
Yehuda– G-d will be praised
Yisrael– wrestle with G-d
Yosef– G-d will increase