Giving the Name: Precedence of the Father or the Mother

1) Regarding which one of the parents the privilege of giving a name belongs I have not heard an explicit ruling on this. My opinion is that in places where there is no established custom, the names should be given in alternating order: the first name belongs to the father, the second name belongs to the mother, the third name again to the father, etc.1

Both Parents Should Agree

2) The giving of the name should be by agreement of both parents together.2

Naming a GrandchildAfter His Grandfather

3) If a child has been given two names, and afterwards they remember that the child’s grandfather bears one of these two names, the child should not be called by the two names jointly, but only by the other name [not shared by the grandfather]. (The same applies to the name in English.)3

Name Given by the Parents; A Name Given by Others

4) The giving of the name is to be done by the father and mother,4 as is stated in various seforim.5 The parents may, however, allow someone else to give the name, acting as their agent.6 If in fact it has not been done this way (and instead the name was given by the grandmother or the like without the parents’ permission), the parents must decide on the particular name they wish. If a name was already given during a Mi Shebeirach, the name should not be canceled (G‑d forbid), but another name can be added.7

The Names Yehuda and Shmuel According to the Testament of Rabbi Yehudah HaChassid

5) It is the common practice to disregard the passage in the Testament of Rabbi Yehudah HaChassid concerning calling someone by the name Yehudah or Shmuel;8 in fact, the Testament itself implies this.9 In addition, many precautions mentioned in the Testament were meant only for his own descendants;10 and in fact, we know that Maharsha was his descendant, and yet his name was Shmuel, and his father’s name was Yehudah.

Naming After a Living Person

6) Regarding naming of a child after a grandfather who is still living: Generally speaking, the customs differ between Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Among Sephardim, not only are they not careful to avoid naming a child after a living person, but just the reverse naming the child after his living grandfather is regarded as an honor for the grandfather; thus, when the child’s father wishes to honor his own father, he names his son after his father while he is still living. But among Ashkenazim, we are scrupulous not to name the child after a living grandfather (rather, we name him only after someone who has already passed away).11 It is known that the very fact that we are particular about something causes it to have an [undesirable] effect. Therefore, we must be careful about it.

Naming After One’s Rebbeim

7) It is the custom among chassidim to name their children after their Rebbeim12 and Rebbetzins.13

No Other Name Should Be Appended to the Names of the Nesi’im

8) Regarding names given after the Nesi’im, my father-in-law objected to combining such a name with another name, for we do not mix together what is holy with what is common.14

Naming After a Father who Disappeared During War

9) Regarding naming a child after one’s father [i.e., the child’s grandfather] who disappeared during war: [there is no objection to this] if the father and mother both agree to it.15