Sunday, June 12, 2011

Should Rep. Anthony Weiner Change His Name?

I have already mentioned that Rep. Anthony Weiner can leverage Weinergate to his advantage. He has a golden opportunity to reexamine the way he has led his life until now. Now that he is officially taking a leave of absence in order to address his problems, let's hope that he will find a rabbi who will give him the spiritual guidance that he really needs. He must realize that the only cure is to lead a Torah-true life. If he is able to make the change, he could be one of the great Jewish heroes of our generation.

Ever since the Weinergate scandal broke the Internet is just full with "Weiner" jokes. One gets the impression from him that he has had to bear such jokes for many years:
"It seems like what happened someone somehow got access to my Twitter account and tweeted a joke, I guess, when your name is Wiener you get some of those sometimes."
The truth is that there is nothing wrong with the name Weiner. It means "wine merchant" in Yiddish.

That being said I'll address the question in the title of this post: Should Anthony Weiner change his name? Before we answer let's take a look at what Maimonides has to say (Laws of Return 2:4):

מדרכי התשובה להיות השב צועק תמיד לפני ה', בבכי ובתחנונים, ועושה צדקה כפי כוחו, ומתרחק הרבה מן הדבר שחטא בו. ומשנה שמו, כלומר שאני אחר ואיני אותו האיש שעשה אותן המעשים; ומשנה מעשיו כולן לטובה, ולדרך ישרה. וגולה ממקומו--שגלות מכפרת עוון, מפני שגורמת לו להיכנע ולהיות עניו ושפל רוח.
A rough translation:
Among the ways of repentance is for the penitent to always raise up his voice before God, in crying and supplication, and to give charity according to his ability, and distance himself a lot from the matter that he sinned in. He changes his name, as if to say I am another and not the man that did those deeds. And he changes all of his deeds for the good, to the straight path. He exiles himself -- for exile atones for sins, because it causes him to be submissive and to be modest and humble.

As long as this guy calls himself Weiner people are going to associate him with this scandal. According to the Maimonides it would be a good idea for Weiner to change his name, along with the other aspects of Teshuva. What name would I suggest? Well, instead of Weiner he call himself Yeinan, the Hebrew word for wine-maker. Instead of Anthony he could choose the name Yosef. Remember, Yosef is the one who was able to overcome the temptation of Potiphar's wife.

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