Rabbi Moshe Har-Noy
Former Rosh Kollel in Detroit
Unfortunately, few historical records describe R’ Yehudah HaChassid himself, but his tzava’ah (ethical will) is particularly fascinating. The lengthy tzava’ah includes numerous clauses, but we will focus on just one of them.
R’ Yehudah HaChassid states that it is forbidden for a man to marry a woman whose father has the same name as the man himself. Much has been written about this issue, but we will cite only some of the more interesting sources.
The Otzar HaSefarim (Even HaEzer 1, p. 100) explains that the prohibition serves to prevent the woman from failing to observe the mitzvah of kibbud av va’em (honoring one’s parents). L’halachah, a person may not call another person by name, if the latter has the same name as the former’s father. (Admittedly, the poskim disagree whether or not this ruling applies when the father is not present. However, presumably, R’ Yehudah HaChassid ruled in accordance with the more stringent opinion. See the Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah 240:1.)
Based on the Otzar HaSefarim’s reasoning, we may conclude that if a father foregoes his honor, the daughter may indeed marry a man with her father’s name.
In the Noda B’Yehudah, R’ Yechezkel Landau zt”l disparages this question:
“And I am astonished about most of the world that to give their daughter to an am ha’aretz (loosely, an ignoramus) is a simple matter for them, and they are not concerned about refraining [from this practice, even though] it goes against the words of Chazal, who said that ‘it is as if he tied her up and placed her before a lion.’ (BT Pesachim 49b) And to marry a tzurba mirabanan (loosely, a scholar), whose name is like [her father’s] name, they ask. And our Torah shleimah shall not be compared to a mere ethical will.”
Similarly, the Ta’amei HaMinhagim states:
“And there is a well-known saying that if the Asseret HaDibrot had been written in the tzava’ah of R’ Yehudah HaChassid, they would be observed scrupulously.”
In the Chatam Sofer (Even HaEzer 115), R’ Moshe Sofer zt”l concurs with the Noda B’Yehudah that the tzava’ah applies only to R’ Yehudah HaChassid’s descendents. In addition, the Chatam Sofer notes:
1. “One who is not meticulous, we are not meticulous with him.” (Similarly, the Gemara teaches that the ayin hara does not control one who does not fear it.)
2. In the case in question, the potential son-in-law is a ben Torah, and the Torah’s merit protects them.
3. Since R’ Yehudah HaChassid does not mention this prohibition in his Sefer Chassidim but only in his tzava’ah, we can infer that the tzava’ah applies only to his family and not to Klal Yisrael.
We will conclude with the words of our teacher Rav Kook zt”l, who always finds a connection to the kedushah (holiness) of Eretz Yisrael:
“And all this [i.e. that we need not concern ourselves with this clause of R’ Yehudah HaChassid’s tzava’ah] is also applicable in chu”l, and kal vachomer (all the more so) in Eretz Yisrael. For the merit of Eretz Yisrael is very important to protect and defend from any harm, and there is no potency to the harmful ones and the external forces in the air of Eretz Yisrael. And just as it was in ancient times, as it is stated in Brachot 44a, ‘There was one city in Eretz Yisrael, and Gufnit was its name. And in it, there were eighty pairs of brothers who were kohanim who were married to eighty pairs of sisters who were kohanot.’ And thus, because of the merit of Eretz Yisrael, there was no meticulousness in this regard.” (Azarat Cohen 6)