Engraving on a Gravestone a Name Which Was Added During an Illness

(YD 335:10)

Question: 
If a person's name was changed during an illness, when this person dies, should one also engrave the new name on the gravestone? If both names are engraved, which name should come first?

Responsum: 
Changing the name of a sick person is a custom that appeared in Germany, France and Spain in the time of the Rishonim. Since it is only a custom, it is possible to follow different traditions. One can engrave both names in every case, or only if the person completely recovered from his illness, or only if he lived at least thirty days after his name was changed, or only if he was called to the Torah by his new name.

Each case should be judged on its own merits. If the person died shortly after the changing of the name, and the new name will be a painful reminder to the family that the change did not help, it is preferable not to engrave it on the gravestone. But if the person recovered from his illness and lived a few years after the changing of the name, it is preferable to engrave both names on the gravestone since he was already known by his new name for a few years. Finally, if one engraves the new name on the gravestone, it should appear before the original name.

Rabbi David Golinkin
Approved Unanimously


Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies
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