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Why Wait Until the Circumcision to Name the Boy?

Why Wait Until the Circumcision to Name the Boy?


When a child is circumcised he is entered into G‑d's covenant with Abraham and his descendants, he joins a chain linking him to the very beginning of our nation. It is only fitting to give him his Jewish name after he has become a full-fledged member of the Jewish nation.

Perhaps another reason why we postpone naming a child until the circumcision is because the first "Jewish name" was given in conjunction with this mitzvah. As we read in Genesis (17:5, 10):

"And your name shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. . . . This is My covenant, which you shall observe between Me and between you and between your seed after you, that every male among you be circumcised..."

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Editor's note: To learn about a specific name, see Jewish boys' names and Jewish girls' names.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Greg Alberta, Canada November 27, 2013

what is a child called before naming How are children referred to before naming? Baby Herstein? Baby boy? Is there a norm or a tradition regarding what to call a child before circumcision? Reply

Lisa Providence, RI July 28, 2011

Waiting Until AFTER Circumcision to Name a Baby In the hospital, you name your baby, and it's mostly Orthodox Jews that either give Hebrew or Yiddish names with or without English versions of their names, so I never fully understood waiting 8 days for baby naming. Reply

Menachem Posner December 19, 2007

RE: pre-Sinai Hebrews You are correct that Abraham and all of the Jews were only obligated to keep the seven Noahide laws.

However, they were already G-d’s chosen nation. Right in the beginning of the account of Abraham’s life He is told that G-d will create a great nation from his seed (Gen 12:2).

So while they didn’t have the full status of Jews with all the accompanying bells and whistles, they were set apart as a special nation. Reply

Brian D. Schuh Cincinnati, OH December 19, 2007

pre-Sinai Hebrews I see that a couple of places on your website, that it is said or alluded to that Abraham was Jewish. This is not true. He was a Noachide, bound by the law of Noah. You are stealing some of my thunder, since I-- like Abraham and all other righteous people before Mt. Sinai-- am a Noachide.

G-d bless, Reply

Circumcision is the first commandment given by G-d to Abraham, the first Jew, and is central to Judaism.
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