Rav Avigdor Miller on Jewish Names

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Q: 

Why do we find that Jewish males have names of animals, even of wild animals like the bear or the lion?

A:

Why do Jews have names of animals like Dov or Ber or Aryeh?  The answer is that these names are really prayers. Every name is a tefillah. It’s a prayer that this Jew should have a quality of gevurah; that he should have the strength to be a hero.  

You know, if you see a bear walking down the street at night, you’re not going to walk up and shake hands with him.  Even if you see him five blocks away, you’ll stop a taxi and you’ll take it in the other direction. If there’s no taxi, you’ll climb a telephone pole. It means that a bear, a dov, is something to be reckoned with.

A Jew has to be a bear.  A bear means he has to be a hero.  He has to be strong and he has to be willing to go into combat for the honor of Hashem.  A Jew has to be a lion too.  You have to be all the good things.  Binyamin ze’ev yitrof.  Not only do we give these names but Hakodosh Boruch Hu by means of His prophets gave these names. Ze’ev yitrof!  He’s a wolf.  A wolf is hungry; he’s always hungry and Binyamin is hungry for mitzvos.  He’s hungry to serve Hashem. He doesn’t serve Hashem like somebody who has to do it; he has no choice so he does it.  No! He has an appetite like a wolf.  When a wolf eats up a sheep he doesn’t do it leshem mitzvah like somebody who ate a lot on erev Shabbos and Friday night he’s not able to eat any more but what can he do, he has to sit down at the seudah and eat some more.  No!  He’s hungry for mitzvos.  That’s why you call him a wolf.  And therefore all these names represent certain desirable characteristics of service of Hashem.

TAPE # 441

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