What’s In a Name?

January 29, 2015
Reading time: 4 minutes
Potential, Purpose, Spiritual Tools


After the birth of my youngest daughter I researched her name and on a whim, I looked up my own. My name means counselor or advisor, which is what I spend most of my days doing! Further associations with my name include a need for quiet, a desire to analyze the world, and seeking deep truths, which I spent a lot of time doing before I started on my path teaching Kabbalah and starting a family. Now there is very little time for quiet and analyzation of the world. People named Monica tend to be intuitive, leaders, have strong personalities, goal-oriented, creative and able to manifest their vision and ideas with determination. They are unique and creative but can be resentful of authority, stubborn, and impatient. 

Intrigued, I began looking up the names of family members and close friends. They too had uncanny associations with their names. 

Michael, my husband’s name, means humble and gift from God. Our children are named:

David: beloved or friend. Biblically, David killed the giant Goilath in 10th Century B.C., then succeeded Saul as King of Israel. True to his name, David is very outgoing, gregarious, and friendly. 

Joshua: savior, a deliverer. Joshua was chosen to succeed Moses as a leader of the Israelites for their journey to the promised land. In many ways my Josh has been a deliverer of messages and spiritual truth. He is one of my greatest teachers in life.

Miriam: rebellion, biblically the sister of Moses and Aaron. My Gemini daughter is always quick to point out pointless rules!

Abigail: a father’s joy, father rejoiced. Biblically, Abigail was a prophetess and King David’s 3rd wife. My daughter brings both her mother and her father great joy! The name is also associated with a deep desire for love and companionship and though not yet two years old, she is remarkably attuned to the energy between everyone in our family and claps with delight when she sees Michael and I hug.

 I shouldn’t have been surprised by how apt these name meanings are.

A person’s name is a channel to the Creator for their whole life, a connection by which the Light of the Creator comes into his life, like an open line between phones. Many people have the same name, there are literally millions of David’s in the world who share the channel, so how is it that people who have the same name lead such unique lives? Why would two people named Sarah have different lives, blessings, and connections?

Because how a person behaves changes the combination of their name.

For example, in the Hebrew name David, there are three letters, Dalet, Vav, and Dalet (דוד). When a person named David is completely connected to the Light of the Creator and has his life focused on his spiritual work, the name is spelled in the correct order, Dalet-Vav-Dalet. When a person acts selfishly, however, he disorders his spiritual name, instead of it being Dalet, Vav, Dalet (דוד) it is now Vav, Dalet, Dalet (ודד). Through his negative actions, he has changed the combination of his name, which means that now the Light coming down to him will be less powerful.

Every action we do influences the combination of our name. In fact, the kabbalists say that the only reason a person experiences chaos or pain is because they have messed up the order of their name. Kabbalists often name their children after spiritual giants so that their child can share that channel of Light created by them. Powerful names for boys are David, Moshe, Yosef, and Michael. Girls are often named for Rachel, Leah, Esther, Miriam, or Sara. While these names have a greater channel to the Light, the blessings still must be earned.

My Hebrew name is Rachel, which means lamb and biblically she was Jacob’s favorite wife. The name Rachel is strongly associated with maternal love and protection. I have always gone by Monica, as I feel connected to that name as I feel it encapsulates my mission, my identity and the characteristics that led me to seek out spirituality and Kabbalah. However, my Hebrew name, Rachel, is  a source of strength at my soul’s level and I connect with that name in my deep love of family, my search for spiritual truth, and in striving to inspire others. In many ways, I relate to Monica from my pre-Kabbalah life and Rachel in my post-Kabbalah life.

An interesting correlation regarding the power of names: consider that hurricanes with female names prove deadlier than hurricanes with male monikers. Studies show that historically female storms are more deadly but not stronger than male storms, because they aren’t taken as seriously! Studies indicate that changing a serious storm’s name from Max to Margaret could triple the death toll. Storms with male names averaged 23 deaths, while female named storms killed on average 45 people.

A great deal of research has been conducted on the science and psychology of naming recently. The authors of Freakonomics illuminated just how telling a name can be in their first book where they classified names by wealth. Statistically, Britney’s parents are poor, Olivia’s are wealthy. In another study, a group of people were given a list of names and asked to guess their academic success. “Katherine goes to the private school, statistically; Lauren goes to a public university, and Briana goes to community college. Sierra and Dakota, they don’t go to college,” shared researcher John Waggoner.

If you don’t connect with your name, don’t despair! Fully half the people I know don’t go by their given name. I didn’t always like the name, Monica. When I moved to Beverly Hills when I was 8 I was uncomfortable with daily drives on Santa Monica Blvd. or shopping trips to Santa Monica (a nearby beach town). I didn’t particularly like the “Santa” part of its association with the big jolly man in the red suit. One day at a restaurant I started talking to a server, Carlos, and we got on the topic of names. I mentioned that I didn’t particularly love my name and he asked me if I realized that Santa meant Saint, Saint Monica. That seemingly inconsequential conversation with Carlos made me realize that it didn’t matter whether or not I liked my name but rather it caused me to assess if I was living up to my name. Remember, it is ultimately your actions and your consciousness that create your life, not your name.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” -William Shakespeare



Look up your name. Does the meaning ring true or give you any hints about your path?

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