Sometimes, I feel like I live two separate distinct lives and it all comes down to a name. A name? Yes, a name, which I believe is a very powerful thing indeed. To me, it defines who we are and adds essence to our being.
That I firmly believe.
When each of our daughters was born, although we had a list of names picked out, I had to gaze at their countenance intently before agreeing that they would become that we would name them. It’s that serious to me.
I’ve heard Rabbis state that a person should never be called by a nickname, as it is not a proper reference of who a person is intrinsically. I don’t go that far, but I see their point.
Which brings me too some reflective thoughts which have been on my mind recently.
Growing up, I was called by “Yitz”, a common shortened version (aka nickname) of my Hebrew name Yitzchak (Hebrew for Isaac), although my legal given name is Seth Isaac. I identify myself primarily to that name. When I was of age that my legal name was required (drivers license, bank accounts, jobs, etc), it was much easier to use my English name in secular environments, as the full Hebrew name was inevitably butchered with the “ch” coming out like the standard English pronunciation (as in “chalk”) or a “ja” (as in “jack”) sound. The proper sound is guttural, like your hocking a loogey. Ah, that brings a nice warm feeling all over. :) On top of that, my Hebrew name is not legally registered as an alias, and I have been dissuaded of ever changing it for the very reason cited.
Where was I? Oh yes. So throughout life, almost everyone I know from my community etc will refer to me at Yitz or Yitzchak, whereas in my professional life I am known as Seth. It took a little getting used to at first, but I soon became accustomed to both, each in its own environment. Getting phone calls at home for Seth still occasionally takes a nanosecond to adjust to every once in a while.
Recently though, this dual identity is starting to itch again. Joining Facebook with my legal name, I have my friends, going back to grade school inquiring if this person perchance is related to Yitz. Sigh. It gets old quick. It’s caused me to realize that I really drew a line between my professional/secular life and my personal life and never really merged the two together; I almost subconsciously think of myself as two distinct persons. Being a religiously observant individual added to this subconscious schism that I carved into my very being. [explanation: There is a school of thought that a removal of temptation will allow for an easier path of observance of the Torah’s letter of the law, and therefore one should refrain from becoming too entrenched in “secular” environments – a topic for another time if I ever get around to it.]
With technology evolving and social networking becoming a mainstay of our (digital) lives, the barriers between my two worlds are starting to overlap, and I am fascinated by it all being revealed; I have spared very little conscious effort towards at all in the past, and it is now being brought to the surface.
So I’ll wrap with a thanks to Yitz for writing this all out. Anytime, Seth. Good night.