A person’s name may not be changed under any circumstances, unless it is either "Herzl" or "Nimrod," in which case it must be changed, Rabbi Avraham Yosef ruled this week.
During a radio show on which he replies to halachic questions, the rabbi, son of Shas’ spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, was asked by a listener whether names should be changed if, for instance, the bride and her mother-in-law share the same name.
The rabbi answered that a name must never be changed, though another name can be added to the first name, unless one carries the name of “an evil, indecent figure” like Herzl, the founder of Zionism, or the biblical Nimrod. “One must be careful not to name his children by these names,” Yosef stressed.
The rabbi’s ruling, and his statement that Herzl was an evil person, is surprising in light of the fact that Yosef serves as the chief rabbi of the city of Holon on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate – an institution that is affiliated with the State of Israel.
Furthermore, his father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is the leader of a political party that is very much involved in the public life of the state.