Midrash Tanhuma, Parshat VaYakhel 1
מדרש תנחומא (ורשא) פרשת ויקהל סימן א
כל זמן שאדם מרבה במצות הוא קונה שם טוב לעצמו, את מוצא שלשה שמות נקראו לו לאדם, אחד מה שקוראים לו אביו ואמו, ואחד מה שקוראין לו בני אדם ואחד מה שקונה הוא לעצמו, טוב מכולן מה שקונה הוא לעצמו
Every time a person increases their good deeds, they earns themselves a new name. There are three names by which a person is called: one which their parents call them, one which people call them, and one which they earn for themselves. The last is the best one of all. [Translation by Hillel and Panim. Edited for gender neutrality]

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. Explain the nature of the three names mentioned in the text above. What are the differences between them?

2. How do you earn your name? What makes that name the best of all? When might it not be the best name of all?

3. Using the concept “name” in the broadest sense, to reflect a person’s identity (perhaps in more than one word), what are your three names? Which names would you want? What might you want your children’s names to be?

Time Period: Rabbinic (Maccabees through the Talmud)