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    I. Avoiding Similar
    It is hard to find a
    lifemate. Part of the
    so-called “Shidduch
    Crisis” is the limitations
    we impose on potential
    spouses, even among
    those within the same social circles. One of
    these limitations is a widespread custom,
    albeit not universally followed, of a man
    refraining from marrying a woman with the
    same name as his mother. There is much
    discussion about whether this truly is a
    limitation and how to sidestep it, if possible.
    The source of this idea is the ethical will
    of Rav Yehudah He-Chasid (13th cen.,
    Germany; par. 23). He writes that a man
    should not marry a woman with the same
    name as his mother and, likewise, a woman
    should not marry a man with the same name
    as her father. He does not offer any reason
    why this should be problematic. However,
    later authorities suggest reasons with practical

    Rav Matis Blum (21st cen., US; Torah La-
    Da’as, vol. 1, p. 74) quotes four possible

    reasons for this concern:
    1) Rav Eliezer Deutsch (20th cen., Hungary;
    Responsa Peri Ha-Sadeh 1:69) attributes this

    concern to ayin ha-ra, some form of evil eye
    or an evil decree from Heaven going to the
    wrong person (see Chagigah 4b).
    2) Rav Yosef Shaul Nathanson (19th cen.,
    Ukraine; Hagahos Yad Sha’ul, Yoreh De’ah
    240) sees the concern in calling out the name
    and having the wrong person come, which
    could lead to forbidden interactions.
    3) Responsa Devar Eliyahu (no. 32) suggests
    that if you call your wife by her name and it
    is also your mother’s name, then you will be
    showing disrespect to your mother by using
    her name.
    4) Rav Reuven Margoliyos (20th cen.,
    Israel; Mekor Chesed on Sefer Chasidim)
    proposes that the problem is that if your wife
    has the same name as your mother then you
    cannot name a child or grandchild after your
    mother, which causes bad feelings. (I looked
    but could not find reasons 2-4 in their original
    If, following #2 above, the concern is
    confusion when a man calls out to his wife
    (or a woman calls out to her husband), then
    as long as they have different nicknames
    for each other that they use consistently
    there should be no problem. If, following
    #3 above, the issue is respect for the mother
    or father, then if they truly forgo their honor
    in this respect then the problem disappears.

    Following the first three reasons, if a woman
    adds to her name (e.g. Rivkah becomes
    Chanah Rivkah), then there should be no
    concern. However, according to reason #4,
    someone named Chanah Rivkah will not
    name a child or grandchild Rivkah. The bride
    would have to completely change her name to
    Chanah. Additionally, Rav Eliezer Deutsch,
    who proposed approach #1 that the concern
    is ayin ha-ra, suggests this only applies if the
    young couple lives with the groom’s parents
    and the two women with the same name live
    in the same house.
    II. Lenient Views
    Rav Yechezkel Landau (18th cen., Austria;
    Noda Bi-Yehudah, part 2, Even Ha-Ezer, no.
    79) points out that some of the instructions
    in this section of Rav Yehudah He-Chasid’s
    will contradict the Talmud. For example, we
    find cases in the Talmud of a father-in-law
    and son-in-law with the same name (e.g.
    Shmuel the father-in-law of Rav Shmuel Bar

    Ami in Sotah 10b). If so, Rav Yehudah He-
    Chasid’s statement must have been intended

    only as guidance for his family and not
    general instructions for the public. Therefore,
    concludes Rav Landau in very strong
    language, unless you are a direct descendant
    of Rav Yehudah He-Chasid, you don’t have
    to follow these rules.
    Rav Avraham Danzig (19th cen., Lithuania;
    Chochmas Adam 123:13) points out
    that most people misunderstand this
    instruction. Rav Yehudah He-Chasid says
    the same thing in Sefer Chasidim (477)
    but adds that this is only a problem if there
    are three generations with the same name.
    If a man has a mother and grandmother
    named Rivkah, then he should not marry
    a woman named Rivkah. If it is only two
    generations, says Rav Danzig, there is no
    Later authorities dispute these two
    approaches. Rav Menachem Schneerson
    (19th cen., Russia; Tzemach Tzedek,
    Piskei Dinim, Yoreh De’ah 116) accepts
    Rav Landau’s approach in general but
    points out that there is an additional
    concern regarding a woman and her
    mother-in-law. In addition to Rav Yehudah
    He-Chasid’s will, the Arizal is quoted
    as warning against a man marrying a
    woman with the same name as his mother.
    The Arizal’s statement was not just for
    his family and is about even just two
    generations. Therefore, Rav Schneerson
    says that both Rav Landau’s and Rav
    Danzig’s approaches do not satisfy and we
    should avoid such marriages if the bride’s
    and mother’s names are exactly the same.
    III. A Middle Position
    Rav Moshe Sofer (19th cen., Hungary;
    Responsa Chasam Sofer, Even Ha-Ezer
    1:116) takes a middle approach. Adopting
    the language of the Talmud (Pesachim
    110b), Rav Sofer says that those who are
    particular about this, Heaven is particular

    with them. And those who are not concerned,
    Heaven is not particular with them. In other
    words, if the bride and groom are bothered
    by this issue, they should change the relevant
    name. If they are not concerned, then Rav
    Sofer says that there is no need to change
    any name. Similarly, Rav Shlomo Ganzfried
    (19th cen., Ukraine; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
    145:8) says that (only) one who is concerned
    should not marry a woman with the same
    name as his mother. Rav Moshe Feinstein
    (Iggeros Moshe, Even Ha-Ezer, 1:4) reaches
    the same conclusion.
    There are those who are strict about this
    issue and those who are not. It has exercised
    halachic authorities so much that Rav
    Avraham Tzvi Hirsch Eisenstadt (19th cen.,
    Lithuania) discusses it in three different places
    in his Pischei Teshuvah collection of rulings
    on Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 116:6;
    Even Ha-Ezer 2:7, 50:14). Similarly, Rav
    Tzvi Hirsch Schapiro (20th cen., Hungary;
    Darchei Teshuvah 116:56) and Rav Chizkiyah
    Medini (19th cen., Crimea; Sedei Chemed,
    Ma’areches Chasan Ve-Kallah Ve-Chupah,
    no. 5) quote many additional sources on the
    subject, the latter including two otherwise
    unpublished letters by Rav Yosef Zechariah
    Stern (19th cen., Lithuania; see also Zeicher
    Yehosef, Berachos 44a) who is not concerned
    for this issue. To all these discussions and lists
    of authorities, I add Rav Betzalel Ze’ev Safran
    (20th cen., Romania; Responsa Ha-Rabaz,
    Even Ha-Ezer, no. 20) who also leans toward
    the lenient position. Nearly all agree that if
    the bride changes or adds to her name and this
    new, expanded name is used consistently, the
    concern is resolved.