Rav Chaim Kanievsky: Michel and Michal Are Different Names

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michel-yehudah-lefkowitz-11Some 100,000 people attended the levaya yesterday of Rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Ponovezh L’tzeirim. Klal Yisroel continues to mourn of passing of one of the senior gedolei Torahof Eretz Yisroel.

At the same time, as usually occurs following the petirah of a gadol baTorah, many parents are naming their newborn sons after Rav Michel Yehudah, perpetuating his name and his remarkable legacy.

rav-chaim-kanievskyIn light of this, an interesting shailah was presented to Rav Chaim Kanievsky – himself a talmid of Rav Michel Yehudah – by a father who recently celebrated the birth of a son. The father told Rav Chaim that he has a daughter named Michal. He wondered whether it is too similar a name to Michel, thus precluding him halachically from naming his newborn son Michel. Or, perhaps, said the yungerman, they are not the same name and can therefore be utilized for a brother and sister.

Rav Chaim responded that, without question, Michal and Michel, despite their phonetic similarity, are two completely different names, and the father may therefore name his baby Michel, even though his daughter’s name is Michal.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. DN – stop the sarcasm. if it was important enough for Reb Chayim to deal with it , it is not trivial. I know of families who had the same quest. with Nosson and Nota,
    Rashi in Parsha Aikev speaks about teh need to follow even the Mitzvos people usually tread on… aikev tishmiun. I guess we can say about inyanei kedusha “Don’t tread on me!!!”

  2. That this Shayloh had to go all the way to Rav Kanievsky is indeed is crazy.
    You don’t need to be the Gadol HaDor to know that Michel is Yiddish for Michael(as in the angel) and Michal is a proper girl’s name having nothing to do with “MICHEL”.

  3. The precise spelling of names is actually an important topic in halacha, though its main relevance is for the writing of gittin.

    The name Michel strikes me as a variant of Michael, similar to Itzik and Yitzchak. Am I mistaken about this?

    Michal is of course a biblical name, the daughter of Saul, given to David in marriage.

  4. Is Michel the same boy’s name that in Chassidish circles is pronounces Mechel, with the mem sounding as if there is a segol under it?? That’s what i’m wondering…

  5. #1 – get off your high horse! It happens to be a real question that needs Daas Torah. I have a cousin who went to Reb Chaim Shlita for a Brocha for his daughter named Shira and was told by the Gadol that Shira is not a name. (You don’t believe it? check it out yourself. This was verified more than once and is true). Do you think people can just make up or choose a name? There is a Mazal attached to a name, there are Pesukim for each name, there is a whole section in the back of the Shulachan Aruch (on Gittin) discussing names, their origin and their significance.

    Don’t belittle this because if the Shulchan Aruch spent so much time on it then you just look foolish claiming it is a non issue

  6. Mechel and Michel are the same name–same spelling just different pronunciation.

    Michel and Michoel is the shaila. They have different spellings.

  7. People don’t realize how important names and their correct spelling is. There are hundreds of the most scholarly seforim written on “shaimos” on names and their correct spellings.
    One of the major reasons is heaven forbid in the event of a divorce if an incorrect spelling of a name is used there may be a big shaila – question as to the validity of the get, enabling the man or woman to remarry.
    It is easy to ridicule and make fun.It makes a person feel good and didn’t cost him anything. Being somewhat knowledgeable would help some.

  8. I heard once that Avidan and Dan are the same name originating from the same shoresh…wonder how that works exactly?

  9. if shira is not a name then its a dass yachid shita. remeber , its a lot easier to pasel something then to make it kosher

  10. Michel is not derived from Michael. It is in fact a derivative of Yechiel. There is a discussion in the poskim about the spelling (as Yechiel is spelled with a ches), but since, even in Ashkenaz at the time, there were different pronunciations of the ches, because some places pronounced it like a hey and some like a chof, it was paskened to spell it with a chof, since that is the most phonetically correct.

  11. #10, I also know of someone whom I’m close with who went to a gadol (I think it was Rav Chaim Kanievsky) and was told Shira is not a real name so they changed her name to Sorah, when she was already a few months old.

    Either you and I know the same person, or more than one person got the psak from him on that name.
    I have a sister Shira, but I’m not telling my parents to change her name (particularly since she’s already married!) and also since it wasn’t their psak they were given.

    But when a gadol tells a person such a psak, then who are we to argue?

  12. Shira wasn’t a name, but now that it’s widespread and USED as a name, why isn’t it now considered a name?

  13. #14 it might be a daas yachid but please remember that we are talking about R’ Chaim Kaneivsky here – the gadol hador. Please make sure to word your comment with the proper derech eretz


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