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What's In A Name

When my first son was born I had this great idea to name him Herman in honor of my favorite novelist Herman Wouk. And Berman in honor of my favorite sportscaster Chris Berman [somehow I didn't think that Chris is an appropriate name for a future Talmid Chacham. I would have to call him "X" as in X-mas]. Hence his name would be Herman Berman Ehrman. I resisted the urge to name him after Ethel Merman, as well.

I ended up naming him Shmuel. [I have a wonderful wife. She has opinions on such matters.]

In our tradition white symbolizes purity. Why then is Lavan- a deceitful and dangerous [yesh lél yadi lehara imachem] individual - called "White".

Please enlighten me.

Lavan is indeed a trickster but I heard B'shem Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein that Lavan is called Lavan "white" because he goes around with a squeaky clean image and tricks you into thinking that his intentions are pure. If you don't catch him sinning or tricking someone red-handed, then he didn't do it - thats Lavan's approach. He tricks you into thinking that he is pure "lavan."

Rav Goldwicht shlita had a whole approach about לבן. I can't say I don't remember some of it because I in fact don't remember any of it, but his main point was that תכלת is about seeing the bigger picture and the long-term, while לבן is about seeing the narrow focus and the short-term. I believe his thrust was that the first is better. He tied this into the מחלוקת about when to say קריאת שמע בשחרים.

The gleaming white on Laban's exterior concealed the corruption and evil in his heart.

I am not sure that Herman Berman Ehrman would go over so well with his fellow classmates.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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