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Berachos 13


QUESTION: The Gemara says that Avraham's name was irrevocably changed to Avraham from Avram. Similarly, a new name, Yisroel, was added to Yakov's. Why was Yitzchak's name not changed?


(a) RAV NISIM GA'ON quotes the Yerushalmi (Berachos, end of ch. 1) that addresses this question. Avraham's original name, points out the Yerushalmi, was given to him by his father, Terach. Yakov's name was given to him by his father, Yitzchak. Yitzchak's name, though, was given to him directly by G-d Himself (Bereishis 17:19). Therefore, there was no need to change it.

We could add that this also explains why the use of Avraham's original name had to be entirely discontinued, while Yakov's original name could continue to be used. Since Avraham's original name was given to him by an idolater, it had to be completely changed. Yakov's name was given to him by a Tzadik -- his father -- and therefore its use did not have to be discontinued.

(b) RABBEINU BACHYE (Bereishis 26:18) cites RABBEINU CHANANEL who explains that when Yitzchak excavated the wells that his father had dug, he did not give them new names. Instead, he called them by the names that his father had given to them (Bereishis 26:18). As a reward, his name as well was not changed.
Rabbeinu Bachye adds that we learn from here the importance of following in the ways of our righteous parents and ancestors and not veering from the foundation they have laid for us even in seemingly insignificant matters.

OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses whether the Torah was said in every language or only in Hebrew. To what Halachah is this question relevant?
(a) RASHI (Megilah 17b, DH b'Chol Lashon), according to the understanding of Tosfos and the Tosfos ha'Rosh, explains that this question -- whether the Torah was said in every language or only in Hebrew -- is relevant for the reading of any of the sections of the Torah which the Torah requires us to read (such as Parshas Zachor, the verses uttered upon bringing Bikurim [first fruits] to the Beis ha'Mikdash, and the verses recited by a woman performing Chalitzah). Even though the Mishnah in Sotah (7:2) says that these must be read in Hebrew, our Gemara is of the opinion that that there are Tana'im who argue over this point.

(b) The RITVA understands Rashi in Megilah to be saying that this question is relevant to whether a Torah scroll written in any other language have the same sanctity as one written in Hebrew. (If it does not have the sanctity of a Torah scroll, then we may not read any of the Parshios from it, and it need not be treated with the same care as a Torah scroll.)

(c) TOSFOS (DH b'Lashon ha'Kodesh) and the RASHBA in the name of RAV HAI GA'ON explain that the Gemara is in doubt as to how the Torah was given at Sinai -- did the Almighty give us the Torah only in Hebrew, or in every language? (See also Tosfos DH b'Lashon)

(d) The Ritva in the name of the RA'AVAD explains that the Gemara wants to know in what language the Almighty taught the Torah to Moshe Rabbeinu, and in what language did Moshe Rabbeinu teach the Torah to the Jewish people. The Ra'avad adds that a practical consequence of this question is whether one must learn Torah, in our day, in Hebrew in order to fulfill the commandment, "You shall ponder the Torah day and night" (Yehoshua 1:8). If the Torah was taught to Moshe only in Hebrew, then one fulfills his obligation to learn Torah only when he learns it in Hebrew.


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