Halacha for Wednesday 6 Kislev 5780 December 4 2019

Calling One’s Father or Mother by Name

Question: May one call one’s father by his first name? Also, may one call a friend with the same name as one’s father by his first name?

Answer: A child may not call his father or mother by their first name. For instance, if one’s father’s name is “Shmuel,” the son may not call him “Shmuel”; rather, he should call his father “Abba,” “Dad,” and the like. This law is quoted explicitly by the Gemara. The reason for this is because when one mentions the names of his father or mother, it should be done with reverence, similar to how one mentions Hashem’s name with reverence.

The Rambam adds that even to call a friend that has the same first name as one’s father by his first name is prohibited. For instance, if one’s friend has the same name as his father, “Shmuel,” one may not call his friend by his first name, Shmuel; rather, one should call one’s friend by a certain nickname, for instance, if the friend’s name is Shmuel and some people call him “Shmuli,” one may call him by this nickname, but one may not call him by his full first name, Shmuel. The Rambam’s position is rooted in the Talmud and is brought down as the Halacha. Nevertheless, the custom is seemingly not in accordance with the Rambam’s view, for people are customarily lenient to call friends with the same first name as their father by their first name and we find no one worrying about causing an affront to their father’s honor.

Indeed, from the words of the Rambam in a different place, we can infer that this Halacha does not apply to all names, for the Rambam writes in one of his responses that this law applies only to an uncommon name and only then will it be prohibited to call a friend bearing the same first name as one’s father by his first name.

For instance, if one’s father’s name is “Gamliel” or “Boaz,” which are both uncommon names, and the son has a friend with the same name, in this case it will be prohibited to call the friend by his first name, even if this is done while not in the presence of the father. However, regarding a name that is not uncommon, it will only be prohibited to call a friend bearing the same first name as one’s father by his first name in the presence of the father. For instance, if one’s father’s first name is “Shmuel” and the son has a friend with the same name, the son may indeed call his friend by his first name, “Shmuel,” unless this is done in the presence of the father in which case it will be prohibited, for it is not respectful to call one’s friend by his first name which is the same name as one’s father in the presence of the father.

The custom of many Sephardic, Middle Eastern, and North African Jews is to name one’s children after the child’s living grandparents and this custom is correct and appropriate without a shadow of a doubt, for this is the honor and wishes of one’s parents that their grandchildren bear their names and fulfilling one’s wishes is an honor to them.

Although the custom of the Jews of Iraq (Maran zt”l’s birthplace) was not to call grandchildren by their living grandparents’ names, nevertheless, the following incident once occurred: At the celebration marking the Berit Milah of Maran’s eldest son, Maran’s father, Rabbi Yaakov zt”l, came over to him and whispered, “What are you planning to name your son?” Maran replied, “I am planning to name him ‘Avraham’ after my father-in-law, Rabbi Avraham Fattal, who is from the Syrian city of Aleppo whose custom it is to name a child after their living grandparent.” His father asked, “And what about me?” Maran zt”l replied, “We are of Iraqi heritage and Iraqi Jews customarily do not name their children after their living grandparents.” Rabbi Yaakov exclaimed, “I am not concerned about this issue at all!” And so it came to pass that Maran named his son “Yaakov” (he named his second son “Avraham”). The Mohel was one of the greatest Babylonian sages of the time, Hagaon Harav Tzadka Hussein zt”l, and he likewise did not point out anything about the issue of naming after the living. Furthermore, Maran zt”l named his daughter “Yaffa” after his living mother (whose name was “Gorgia” which means “beautiful” in Arabic and translates to “Yaffa” in Hebrew). When Maran once saw one of his sons-in-law calling his son a nickname so as not to call him “Ovadia” in the presence of Maran zt”l, Maran pointed out to him that this was an incorrect practice.

Summary: One may not call one’s father by his first name. If one has a friend bearing the same first name as one’s own father, one may not call the friend by his first name if this is being done in the presence of the father; however, if this is being done while not in the presence of the father, it is permissible to do so. If it is an uncommon name, it will be forbidden to do so even if this is being done while not in the presence of the father.

Ask the Rabbi


הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: Are those who customarily donate a tenth of their monthly income to Tzedakah permitted to deduct the cost of providing for their children still living at home from the sum of this ten percent?

Answer: We have previously discussed that one must donate a certain amount of Tzedakah annually. It is a “middle” level for one to give a tenth of one’s monthly profits every month. Now let us deal with our question regarding those who donate a tenth of their monthly profits to Tze......

Read Halacha

How Much Tzedakah One Must Donate

The Rambam, Tur, and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that the amount one should donate for Tzedakah is, if one can afford it, based on the necessities of the needy people. This means that if one is extremely wealthy and can provide for the needs of poor people in one’s city, one should ind......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Tzedakah

The Tur (Yoreh De’ah, Chapter 247) writes: “There is a positive Torah commandment for one to donate some of one’s money to charity, based on one’s individual capabilities. In addition to the fact that whoever donates charity fulfills a positive Torah commandment, one who abst......

Read Halacha

Who is Obligated in the Mitzvah of Tzedakah?

Every member of the Jewish nation must donate Tzedakah. Even a pauper who receives Tzedakah, has no way of earning a livelihood, and only lives off of what others provide him with must give Tzedakah from what others give him. When the Sages of Israel had control over the Jewish nation, the Jewish co......

Read Halacha


Question: Is one permitted to eat fish with milk or butter?

Answer: The Mishnah in Masechet Chullin (103b) states: “Any meat is forbidden to be cooked with milk, besides for the flesh of fish and grasshoppers.” Clearly then, according to the letter of the law, the prohibition of cooking fish with milk is not included in the prohibition of cooking......

Read Halacha

Foods Cooked by a Non-Jew

Question: We currently employ non-Jewish help in our home. She helps with things around the house including cooking our food. All of the ingredients which enter the house are kosher and we supervise her while she is cooking, such that there is no Kashrut concern with the food. May we eat the food sh......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat for the Room to Look Clean and Orderly

Question: May one make a bed on Shabbat so that it looks neat although one does not intend to sleep in it on Shabbat? Similarly, is it permissible to wash dishes which are no longer necessary on Shabbat because it is truly unpleasant and causes discomfort due to guests and the like? Answer: Appro......

Read Halacha

Coffee Prepared by a Non-Jew

Question: Is it permissible to drink coffee which was prepared by a non-Jew, such as the coffee served during flights aboard non-Jewish airlines, or does this constitute the prohibition of foods cooked by a non-Jew or any other prohibition? Answer: Clearly, the coffee sold in many places where n......

Read Halacha