Showing posts from October, 2011

The Hebrew Name Jacob

(Are you looking for our Twebrew School Treats about the Hebrew alphabet or our Hebrew Instructional videos? Click here for a directory!) Listen to Ya'ah'kov pronounced The root letters of the name Jacob (Ya'akov) are ayin , kuf and vet . According to Genesis 25:26, Jacob was given his name, because he was born immediately after his brother Esau, and “his hand had hold on Esau’s heel.” (Heel in Hebrew is ah'kev .) The ayin-kuf-vet root of the name Ya'akov is also the root of the word akov , crooked or insidious, and aikev , struggling. From Esau’s point of view, Jacob was “crooked.” After discovering that Jacob had been blessed by Isaac in his stead, Esau called out: “Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing” (Genesis 27:36). Esau assumed no personal responsibility for the transfer of the birthright due to his decision to sell the birthright for a b

Choosing a Hebrew Name

When naming a child, parents are often faced with a great deal of outside pressure. Family, friends, co-workers--everybody has an opinion. Stressed-out parents should feel some relief knowing that, according to Jewish tradition, parents have ruach hakodesh , Divine inspiration, when choosing a name. In most Sephardi communities, it is customary to name children after grandparents (or relatives other than parents) either living or dead. In fact, there is even a preferred order: the first child is named after a paternal grandparent, the second after a maternal grandparent (a living grandparent may forgo the honor if they wish). The source for this custom in Genesis 38, when Jacob’s son Judah marries. The Torah explicitly states that Judah chose the name of the first child and his wife chose the name of the second. This verse is also the source of the common Ashkenazi custom that the father names the first child, the mother names the second, and they continue to alternate. It is interest