Chana: A Charming Name

Can you tell me what my name means?

Rabbi Aron Moss,

Judaism Rabbi Aron Moss
Rabbi Aron Moss
Arutz 7

Mazel Tov on the birth of your daughter. Wonderful news. And I love her name, Chana, because it's my Hebrew name too. Can you tell me what it means?

Chana means "charm". It is the Hebrew term that describes that elusive trait possessed by certain special people that makes them particularly lovable. A charming person is someone whom you simply enjoy being around and always come away from their presence feeling good.

True charm comes from the soul. Every soul is charming, but that charm is not always visible. When the light of the soul shines outward and is manifest in our physical self, some of our inner purity is shared with others and we are charming.

So the name Chana really means, "one whose soul shines through her body."

The ultimate goal of Jewish spirituality is just that, to refine the body so it becomes a vehicle that expresses the light of the soul. This mission is reflected in the three pillars of Jewish life: kosher eating, holiness in marriage and the sanctity of Shabbos. All three help bring the charm of the soul into the body and the physical world.

Eating is the most basic of physical activities. The laws of kosher food are a means to make the act of eating holy. Every meal has to be thought out and considered to ensure it conforms to the Divine regimen. This brings soul and consciousness to an otherwise instinctive bodily act, the act of eating. This is the first pillar of Judaism, keeping kosher.

If food sustains the body, it is intimate relations between man and woman that actually create that body. The laws of family purity are the Torah's formula for bringing sanctity and endurance to marriage and intimate relationships. These laws imbue the union of man and woman, even in the most bodily and physical sense, with sanctity and holiness. This is the second pillar, the laws of family purity.

The third pillar is Shabbos, the way we sanctify time. Rather than seeing our lives as an endless cycle going nowhere, the Shabbos brings a sense of purpose, direction and holiness to the week. Shabbos takes an otherwise mundane and drab life in this physical world and adds soul and spirit, light and vitality.

Here's where the name Chana comes in. The three Hebrew letters that spell the name Chana stand for these three special mitzvos. The letters are chet - nun - hei, which stand for challah, niddah and hadlokas haner.

Challah means loaf, and though today we use the word for our Shabbos bread, in the Torah it refers to one of the laws of keeping kosher.

Niddah refers to the laws of family purity.

Hadlokas haner is the lighting of Shabbos candles, bringing an aura of sanctity and light into the home.

That is the unique charm that is contained in the name Chana, the power to bring the light of the soul into the body. You have the name, so you have the charm. Use it well.