A Baby Boy’s Name before the Bris

712. A Baby Boy’s Name before the Bris

It is a minhag (custom) to avoid naming a baby boy until the time of his bris. One of the explanations for this minhag relates the name to the shoresh haneshama (the G-dly source of the soul) which is the source of chayus (vitality) for every person. But for a baby boy, a bris is required for this connection to be realized, when the orlah (foreskin), a barrier of impurity, is removed.

Many people are very careful that once they’ve reached a decision on the name, they don’t publicize, or even verbalize, their choice until the name is announced at the bris. This practice may cause issues when filling out hospital forms—and a birth certificate—for a new baby boy, where changing a name at a later date post-bris entails much inconvenience and red tape for the new parents. In such a case, it is recommended that parents use their name choice on the legal paperwork, but not otherwise speak about the name or refer to the baby by it.

Sometimes the bris is delayed for some time, such as if a baby boy is born in need of medical care, rachmana litzlan (may Hashem save us [from it]). In this situation, parents in some communities name the baby at the first possible opportunity to provide a name for the recital of Tehillim in his merit. Others still refrain from publicizing a name and request prayers for “Tinok ben __________(Baby Boy the son of [mother’s name]). Some have the practice to use this label in public, but will nevertheless disclose the name privately in a pan or kvitel (written prayer request given to a tzaddik or submitted at his gravesite), or when asking righteous people to daven on the ill baby’s behalf for a refuah shleimah (complete recovery).


Practical Halacha: One minute a day. By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, shlita, Mara D'asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights.