When To Name A Baby

1) Naming A Boy– It is well known that the custom is to name the boy at the Bris. This custom is sourced in the Rishonim. (Siddur Ri Ben Yakar) The reason for this is that only after the baby is in his perfected state, after the removal of the orlah (foreskin), is the baby prepared to receive his Jewish name. (Chesed l’Avraham 2:52)
2) The poskim discuss what to do if a child is ill and will not be able to have the bris on time at 8 days: A) The Sefer Chemudei Daniel is of the opinion that if a child is ill and will not have a bris for weeks, one may give him a name before the bris. According to the Chamudei Daniel one should name the baby before he is 8 days old, while the Sefer Kores Bris (page 25) maintains one should name before the bris, but after the baby is 8 days old. Indeed, there were rabbanim who endorsed naming an ill baby before the bris so that the baby will have a name that others can use when davening for his recovery. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l and the Satmar Rebbe zt”l are also cited as advising one to give an ill child a name, even before the bris. (Refer to Kovetz Asia page 244) B) Harav Shach zt”l is cited as ruling that one should only name the baby before the bris if the baby is in a life threatening situation. However, if the bris is postponed because the baby’s bilirubin levels are high, however, the baby is not in a life threatening situation, one should not name the baby before the bris. C) The Steipler Gaon zt”l is cited as ruling that one should never name the baby before the bris. According to the Steipler Gaon zt”l if one wishes to daven for the baby one would pray for “tinok (child) ben plonis.”
3) Naming A Girl– The custom is to name the girl when the father receives an aliyah to the Torah. The Gabbai recites a special Mi Sheberach and the baby is formally named.
4) There are various customs as to when to name the baby girl, however, there are primarily two approaches:
A) The view of the Bnei Yisasschar was to name the baby at the first Torah reading after the birth, even if that is a Monday or Thursday, and one does not wait for Shabbos. (See Minchas Yitzchak 4:107) This is also the view of the Minchas Elazar of Munkatch zt”l and is followed by Munkatcher Chassidim. This is also the custom of Chabad, (Shaarei Halacha U’Minhag Y.D. page 297) Ziditshov and Spinka Chassidim. (Netai Gavriel Niddah vol. 3 page 595)
Similarly, according to the custom of Chabad Chassidim, if a mother gives birth on Shabbos morning after Shachris, the father will name the baby at Mincha.

B) While others name the baby at the Torah reading on the first Shabbos after birth. As it states in the Sefer Ben Uziel Parshas Shemos, “I have heard in the name of Rav Yechezkal of Shinova zt”l that he was particular not to name a girl during the week, rather only to do so on Shabbos. He explained that the reason being that a baby boy receives his holy neshama at the bris milah, however, a baby girl receives her holy neshama on Shabbos.” The Avnei Nezer is also as cited as being very particular that one name a girl on Shabbos. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh 3:283) This is also the practice of many chassidim, including Siget, Satmar, Tchernobel, Sanz, Ger, Amshinov, Bialeh and Belz. This is also the custom of many sefardim. (Mishnas Yehoshua Bas page 209)
5) The custom of Belz is that they name on Shabbos. However, if the baby is born on Friday, they will wait and name the baby the following Shabbos (8 days later).
6) The custom of Sanz and Babov is to name the baby on Shabbos. This is true even if during the week is Yom Tov, they still wait for Shabbos.
7) Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a writes that all agree that if a baby girl is born ill and requires others to daven for her health that one should name her right away and one need not wait for a day that the Torah is read.

Who Chooses The Name Of The Baby

1) The right to name the child belongs to the parents of the child and to them alone. No other person (grandparents etc.) should get involved in the naming of the child. As the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l writes, “As for her question regarding a suggestion as to what to name the child that was born, may he live. The Response of my father in law, the Rebbe, on this matter is known: He does not get involved in these matters. [This lack of involvement] is understood in light of the Arizal’s words that parents are given the thought from Above as to what to name the boy or girl that is born, a name connected to this child’s soul, so that the letters of the name are connected to the life force of the sould and body.” (Likkutei Sichos vol. 12 page 182. See also Bris Avos 8:30)
2) The common custom is that the parents do not reveal the name to others until the baby is formally named (the boy at the bris and there are various custom when the girl is formally named). Rav Sarya Deblitzky shlit”a explains that the reason that the name is not revealed to others is out of concern of ayin hara. (See Avnei Yashfei 1:196:6)
3) Whose side of the family should name the first child, and any subsequent children, is dependent on custom:
Sephardic Custom– The Sephardic custom has always been to name the first child from the father’s side of the family and the next child from the mother’s side and it continues with this pattern.
Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 5 Y.D. 21), citing Rishonim, points to the naming of Yehuda’s children in Sefer Breishis as the source of this custom. The Torah records that Yehuda named his first son (Er), and his wife named the second son (Onan). Thus it is evident that the first child is named by the father and the second by the mother. [Although, the Torah mentions that his wife named the third son as well, the Daas Zekeinim Mibaalei Hatosafos points out that the Torah specifically tells us that Yehuda was out of town at the time of the naming of his third child and was therefore unable to name him. If both parents are present, however, it seems that they should alternate namign the children, with the father naming the first child.]
4) Interestingly, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l was asked what is the proper order for naming children and he explains that if there is no set custom in the locale, one should follow the custom of the Rishonim, cited above, that the first child is named by the father, the second by the mother and so on. (Likkutei Sichos vol. 7 page 308)

5) The Ben Ish Chai (Year 2 Shoftim 27) maintains that even if the father wishes to forgo the honor and wishes to let the wife name the first baby after the mother’s side, he may not do so. However, Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that if the paternal grandfather is willing to forgo the honor, they may name the baby after the maternal grandfather. Such as the maternal grandfather was a rabbi etc. This is especially so when the need to maintain shalom bayis is at play. For practical halacha, a competent rabbi should be consulted.

6) According to this custom if the child is given two names, one after the father’s side and one after the mother’s side, the name after the father’s side should be used first.
7) Ashkenazic Custom– The current Ashkenazic custom is that the mother’s side of the family has the rights to the first name. (See Hamaor 5732:2, Shearim Metzuyanim B’Halacha 163:22 and Igros Moshe Y.D. 3:101)
One reason given for this custom is that the bond between a daughter and her parents is weakened by her marriage because she leaves their home and now has responsibilities to her husband. Indeed, this weakened bond manifests itself in the halacha that a married woman is no longer obligated in the mitzvah of kibud av v’em as it may interfere with her responsibilities toward her husband. In order to strengthen this newly weakened bond, the first child is named from the mother’s side of the family. (See Kovetz Noam vol. 13 page 194)
Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a offers a second reason for this custom. He explains that since the mother just went through a painful delivery process, she is given the rights of the naming of the first child in order to help ease the pain. (Halichos Ketanim U’ketanos page 31)

8) According to this custom if the child is given two names, one after the father’s side and one after the mother’s side, the name after the mother’s side should be used first.
9) Despite the various customs, cited over the last few emails, great should be taken that no arguments arise when naming the baby and that both the husband and wife are happy with the decision. (See Tziporan Shamir 186 and Ziv Hasheimos page 30)

Chanukah (Assorted Halachos)

1) On all eight days of Chanukah, complete Hallel is said. (Shulchan Aruch 683:1) If one accidentally only recited a “Chatzi Hallel” (he omitted the chapters of Lo Lanu and Ahavti), he should repeat the complete Hallel without reciting the Brachos at the beginning and end of Hallel. (Ishei Yisroel page 481, regarding Hallel on Pesach, citing the view of Harav Wosner zt”l in Shevet Halevi 7:62. See, however, Rivevos Efraim 4:105 who maintains that one should recite the blessings as well.)
2)The Zohar Hakadosh (Shemos 12a) writes that during the months of Teves, Av, and Tamuz the middah of din, judgement, is very pronounced in the world. The Minchas Elazar of Munkatch (3:66) writes that based on this teaching of the Zohar, the Rav of Rozvadov zt”l encouraged his children not to marry during these three months. Similarly, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt”l (Igros Kodesh Vol. 18 Page 16), in a letter to one of his followers, writes that, “Our custom is not to make weddings during the month of Teves.” Perhaps the reason that Chabad Chassidim refrain from marrying during the month of Teves is due to the words of the Zohar Hakadosh. Sqaure Chassidim also refrain from making weddings during the month of Teves. (Netai Gavriel Nisuin 48:37) However, the Minchas Elazar continues to note that the common custom is to allow for weddings to take place during the month of Teves. Harav Gavriel Zinner shlit”a, citing the Pupa Rebbe zt”l, explains that everyone agrees that one is allowed to get married during Chanukah, even though a few days of Chanukah take place during the month of Teves. (Netai Gavriel ibid.)
3) It is a mitzvah for a mourner to serve as the chazzan during the eleven months that he recites kaddish. (Rama 376:4) The poskim debate whether a mourner may serve as the chazzan onChanukah: A- Some say that he may serve as the chazzan for Mincha and Maariv, but not for Shachris since Hallel is recited. (M.B. 684:1) B- Some disagree and hold that he may serve as the chazzan during Shachris until after Shemoneh Esrei, but should be replaced for Hallel. (M.B. 581:7, citing Machatzis Hashekel) C- While some poskim hold that a mourner does not serve as chazzan at all during Chanukah. (M.B. ibid, citing Gra) Many chassidim follow this last view. For normativa halacha, one should follow his family custom.
4) The Shulchan Aruch  (670 1,3) rules that one may not deliver a hesped, eulogy, on Chanukah. However, a eulogy for a talmid chochom in his presence is permitted. Harav Neventzhal shlit”a cites Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld zt”l, who refused to discuss negative news or sad reports on Chanukah. He felt that talking about something depressing is akin to delivering a eulogy and is not appropriate for Chanukah. (BYitzchak Yikareh 670)
5) On Chanukah, when lighting the menorah, one should not speak between the brachos and the beginning of the lighting of the candles. If one did speak, if the conversation concerned the lighting itself, he is not required to repeat the brachos. If the conversation did not concern the lighting, he is required to repeat the brachos. (See M.B. 432:5 and Laws ofChanukah by Rav Shimon Eider page 28) Preferably, one should not speak until he completed lighting all the candles. However, if he spoke after lighting at least one candle the brachos are not repeated. (Laws of Chanukah ibid.)
6) The poskim debate whether one should light the Chanukah lights before reciting Havdalah this Motzei Shabbos, or is Havdalah recited before kindling the Chanukahlights. (See Shulchan Aruch, Rama, Mishnah Berurah and Biur Halacha 681 for full discussion) In shul, the custom is to light Chanukah lights first. At home, however, since there is basis for both views, one should continue to conduct himself according to his own custom. If one has no specific custom he should perform Havdalah first and then kindle the Chanukah lights. (Opinion of Harav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin zt”l cited in Luach and of Harav Shimon Eider zt”l in Halachos of Chanukah page 44)
7) During Chanukah, many refrain from visiting the cemetery on the death anniversary of relatives, because such a visit is liable to evoke tears and eulogizing, acts forbidden during Chanukah. Instead, they visit the cemetery before or after Chanukah. Others do not refrain from going to the cemetery on Chanukah, and this is the practice of some Ashkenazi communities. (See Gesher Hachaim 29:5) However, all permit visiting the graves of the righteous duringChanukah (Ben Ish Chai) (See also Yalkut Yosef Kitzur Shulchan AruchChanukah who cites those that are strict but who concludes that “those who act leniently have whom to rely on).
8) From a half hour prior to the time of lighting the menorah (approximately 10-15 minutes before sunset) one may not eat. (M.B. 672:10) A snack, however, is permitted. (Halachos of Chanukah by Rav Shimon Eider page 22) The definition of snack, for this discussion, is fruit and drinks. One may also eat bread and mezonos less than the size of a volume of an egg. (see Piskei Teshuvos page 479). The custom is for women to refrain from eating as well, even though they don’t light themselves. However, if a woman is not feeling well she may eat. (Bitzeil Hachochma 4:58 and Netai Gavriel Chanukah 5:5) If one wishes to eat before lighting the menorah (for example he will be at work late and won’t light for hours) he should appoint a shomer to remind him to light and this will permit him to eat. (Netai Gavriel 5:6)
9)  The time for lighting the Chanukah candles on Friday is after Plag Hamincha, before sunset, and should burn a half hour after Tzeis Hakochavim. Therefore, care should be taken to see that there should be enough oil in the Menorah at the time of the lighting, to burn for the required amount of time.
10) One should preferably daven Mincha first and then kindle the Chanukah lights. However, if this is not possible, one may light first and then daven Mincha. One should rather daven Mincha with a minyan after lighting the Chanukah candles, then daven alone before lighting the candles. (See Shulchan Aruch 679 and Mishnah Berurah 2)
11)  On Erev Shabbos, the Chanukah lights are kindled before the Shabbos candles even if a man is lighting the Shabbos candles. The reason is that there is a view which holds that men are mekabel Shabbos when he lights the Shabbos candles and melacha is prohibited. Although most poskim disagree with this view, and feel that men are not mekabel Shabbos when lighting the Shabbos candles, the custom is to preferably conduct himself accordingly.
12) However, if a man lit the Shabbos candles and did not intend to usher in Shabbos, he may kindle the Chanukah lights afterwards. This Halacha concerns a man, who does not accept Shabbos by lighting the Shabbos candles. However, when a woman lights the Shabbos candles, the custom is that the she does accept Shabbos and is prohibited from doing any melacha. Therefore, if she should, accidentally, light the Shabbos candles, she is no longer permitted to kindle the Chanukah lights. She should, instead, instruct another person to light for her (as long as it is before sunset) and recite the blessing “Lehadlik Ner Shel Chanuka” on her behalf. She may, however, recite “Sheasa Nissim”. (Mishnah Berurah 679:1)