26Name

In Jewish tradition, there are three names every person has. (This notion comes from a Midrash.) MIDRASH TANHUMA, PARSHAT VAYAKHEL 1):

  • The names our parents gave us – the name we are given. (Some of us are were given additional religious names as well.)
  • The names we’re known by in the outside world . (In my house I’m known as “Papa,” and “husband.” Most of you out there in know me as “Rabbi Brian.” Then, there are pet names my family members and students give me.)
  • Third and most importantly, the tradition teaches, is the name which our own deeds have procured for us. Each of us gets a third name based not on what other people call us, not by our job titles, but on our reputation – what we’re known for doing.

The first two names are given to us. It’s the third that most interests me. It’s the name we earn by how we live. Think about how you’re known to people.

When I was a counselor recently at a camp, a kid came up to me asking if he could change out of someone else’s workshop to be in my workshop. I told him, “Yes, we can do that, but let me talk to the person whose workshop you’re leaving. What’s your name?”

“My name’s David,” he said, “but they won’t know who that is.”
“OK…” I said.
“It’s David O.”
“All right, I’ll tell them David O wants to change workshops…”
“That won’t really help,” the kid said. “There are three David O’s at this camp.”
“Well, tell me how are you known?” I asked.
“‘David who is really loud.’ They’ll know who that is.” 

I want you to think about this question for yourself – how do other people know you? By what name do they call you? If I’m talking to people about you, they might say, “Oh yeah, I know her, she’s kind of _________” or “he’s _________.”

What do people say about you?

(Do you want to be known as being kind? Then, be kind. Do you want to be known as being bitter or snarky? Then you know what to do.)  

What do people say about you?

(Do you want to be known as being kind? Then, be kind. Do you want to be known as being bitter or snarky? Then you know what to do.)

Spiritual-religious advice:

Figure out what name you want to be called, and live your way into that name.

With love,

i best

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