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The Rema Print E-mail

Rema ShulThe 18th of Iyar is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Moshe Isserles (the Rema), on the Shulchan Aruch (1520-1572). Born and died in Cracow, Poland. He composed glosses on those paragraphs of the Shulchan Aruch in which he differs from the author, stating the Halacha as it has been decided by the Ashkenazi authorities, which is binding on Ashkenazi Jews. Rema named his glosses Mappah ("Tablecloth"), as a "cover" for the Shulchan Aruch ("the Set Table"). These glosses have been incorporated into the text and are distinguishable in that they are printed in Rashi script. This consolidation of the two works symbolizes the underlying unity of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi communities. It is thru this unification that the Shulchan Aruch became the universally accepted Code of Law for the entire Jewish people. The Rema also wrote Darkei Moshe, a commentary on the Arba’ah Turim. He became a son-in-law of Rav Shalom Shachna, Rosh Yeshiva of Lublin. He was also related to Rav Meir Katzenelenbogen – the Maharam Padua – and to Rav Shlomo Luria – the Maharshal.

In Responsum #41, the Rema considers the question discussed by Rabbi Binyamin Ze’ev ben Matityahu of Arta (early 16th Century) whether the son of an apostate should be called to the Torah by his father’s name: “A, the son of B.”

The Rema agrees with his questioner that the man should be called to the Torah by his father’s name in order to avoid public embarrassment. The Talmud (Yoma 40b) does say that a child should not be given the name of a wicked man but this does not mean that the wicked must never be referred to by name. The Talmud itself frequently mentions wicked people by name. It is even permitted to refer to false gods by name, providing the name has already been mentioned in the Bible and is not a name praising the god.

Furthermore, the Talmud cannot possibly refer to a name the wicked person shares with many others.

Thus, the Rema permits it in all circumstances and he disagrees with the view that where there is no public embarrassment, where the man is unknown, the name of the grandfather should be used.
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