What’s in a Name?

The town of Blenheim in New Zealand has been advised to change its name in a bid to lure more tourists. A group of business leaders believe the moniker “Marlborough City” will help it take advantage of the global success of the region’s wine industry – and encourage overseas visitors. It wouldn’t be the first time a town changed its name, however. Here are several others:

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico: The Fifties game show Truth or Consequences saw contestants asked impossible questions, and – if they got the answer wrong – they were made to perform a wacky stunt. Its producers offered to host the show in the first town that would change its name to Truth or Consequences. The fortunate winner was Hot Springs, New Mexico.

DISH, Texas: Formerly Clark, this Texan town became DISH in 2005 in a deal with a satellite TV company. All the residents were given a free 10-year subscription in return.

Sleepy Hollow, New York: In an effort to cash in on its fame as the setting for Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, residents of North Tarrytown, New York, chose to officially adopt the name in 1996.

Changing one’s name to create a change of fortune actually has its roots in Judaism. That’s why if someone is dangerously ill, we might provide him or her with an additional name, like Chaim or Chaya, meaning “life,” or Refael or Refaela, “cure.” The first recorded story of a name change that led to an incredible change of destiny was that of Sarah and Abraham. A name connects us to our soul. It provides us with spiritual ammunition, allowing us to access spiritual strengths we may have never known we had.
So what’s in a name? A name connects us to our soul.

Parshas Naso Numbers 4:21 – 7:89
Among the topics appearing in Naso is the mitzvah of the ‘Sotah’. When compelling circumstantial evidence suggests an act of marital infidelity may have taken place, the Torah provides a means to clarify the hoped-for innocence of the suspect parties. Contained in this mitzvah is dissolving G-d’s name that was written on a parchment. We learn from this the supreme importance of shalom bayis — peace in the home. If G-d allows His Holy Name to be erased for the sake of peace between husband and wife, certainly each of us should seek shalom bayis with our spouses and other family members. What can each of us do to increase shalom bayis with those whom we love? Parshas Naso also describes the nazir — an individual who takes a vow to refrain from drinking wine, cutting his hair, and other restrictions. Remember the story of Samson? Samson — who was a nazir — was the great Jewish judge and hero who ‘brought down the house.’

Rabbinic Ruminations
Want to know how long you’ll live? The average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.5 years — and by now we all know that certain healthy behaviors might help to extend that figure, whether it’s exercise, nutrition, or little everyday habits, like cooking more meals at home. And scientists have long known that your personality can affect how many birthdays you celebrate. Character traits such as extroversion, optimism, agreeableness and conscientiousness have been shown to be better prognosticators than either intelligence or socioeconomic status for poor health and early death. But personality isn’t easy to measure in a reliable way, since self-reports are notoriously biased and misleading. However, research out of Washington University in St. Louis suggests a simpler method may work best: asking your friends.
A recent study in Psychological Science notes that friends possess tremendous insight into each other’s personalities — your closest pals probably know you better than you know yourself. “Really simple ratings of your personality … predict decades in advance how healthy you’re going to be and how long you’re going to live,” says Dr.Joshua Jackson, the assistant professor of psychology who led the study. In particular, friends’ ratings frequently pick up on traits we ignore. “You expect your friends to be inclined to see you in a positive manner, but they also are keen observers of the personality traits that could send you to an early grave.” Dr. Benjamin Le, an associate professor of psychology at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, echoes Dr. Jackson’s findings that friends can see things people miss in themselves. “Outsiders have a more accurate view because their perceptions aren’t colored by self-serving biases,” he says. “When I look at myself, I have to maintain my self-esteem,” but a friend doesn’t need to preserve that rosy perspective.

During a public talk given on his 80th birthday in 5762 (1982), the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that it is obvious that if a person is blessed with long life, it is because the Almighty wants him or her to focus on the main aspects of their life, those aspects connected to their soul, to spiritual things. G-d created each and every individual with a specific purpose in order to reveal G-dliness in the world. If a person is blessed by the Creator with long life, it should be clear that they still have much to accomplish.

Quote of the Week
He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. — Albert Einstein.

Joke of the Week
As Morris and his wife, Sheila, were planning a vacation, they ended up in an argument, “It’s ‘Hawaii’, I’m telling you!” Sheila said. Morris: “I never KNEW someone so stubborn! ‘Havaii’ is how it’s pronounced!” And so it went all the way to the vacation…

Shortly after picking up their bags in the Honolulu airport, they approached a tall, brown-skinned man. Morris said, ‘Good afternoon, Sir. We’re tourists from Brooklyn, New York. My name is Morris and my wife’s name is Sheila.”

“Welcome to the Islands,” the man said. “My name is Kamakaʻeha Waiwaiʻole.”

Excited to meet a native, Sheila blurted out, “Would you mind telling us the name of your state?’
“Havaii! “ the man replied.
“Thanks!!” answered Morris.
“You’re Velcome,” said the native.

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