How a great person thinks

There was once a dispute between a husband and wife about what to name their baby boy. The husband wanted to name the child after his father who had just passed away months before. His wife, however, was opposed to that name. They had a neighbor who had a child with the same name who died very young. She was worried that the name might bring bad luck.

The husband tried to explain that they would not be putting their child in any danger by giving him that name. In fact, it would be just the opposite. The mitzvah of honoring his father by naming their child after him would only help the child. But his wife was not convinced.

They decided to go see Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and seek his counsel. After hearing both sides, the rabbi said: “Do not name your child after your father. Not because it will bring bad luck. Rather, if your child will have the same name as your neighbor’s child who passed away – every time you call your child’s name in front of them, they’re going to think about their child, and it will cause them pain. The worst thing you can do is cause others pain.” (From “Living Emunah”)

Rav Auerbach was tuned into people’s feelings. He thought of angles others might not have considered. I met with R’ Shlomo Zalman, ztz”l, to discuss some sensitive issues when I was studying in Jerusalem in 1980. I was in the presence of a true giant.

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