A Beautiful Name for a Beautiful Soul
I was in a rush to get my post and pictures in yesterday, so I didn't pontificate on the significance of the name "Naomi." I remember, when my first Israeli grandson was born to my younger son, Nathaniel Blumenstein, I waxed eloquent ( or rather, my son did--I just copied and pasted his stuff!) on the meaning and significance of his name, Gavriel (which is translated as "Gabriel" in English) on my post back in November '08 after his birth, here.
As is Gavriel, Naomi, too, is a special name. It is Hebrew, originating in the TaNaCH in the book of Ruth. Naomi was the mother-in-law of Ruth. It means "my delight," coming from the Hebrew word, no'am, which is "pleasantness" or "delightfulness." The shoresh, or root, is "na-em," which is 'pleasant' or 'lovely.' The infinitive, "li-n'om," means "to be pleasant."
Hebrew grammar has seven different structures or "constructs" of conjugations. The above, "li-n'om," is in the first one, called 'po'al,' or 'kal' - "simple," such as in the verb "to write" (I wrote, you wrote, etc.) But you can also conjugate this verb in the hiph'il, or causative form, which means 'he caused you to be pleasant.' Then, the verb "li-n'om" becomes "le-han'im."
The interesting thing about this is, that in this form, the meaning changes. It is not any longer 'to be pleasant,' but rather, "to play music," or "to compose music!" Naomi's father loves music. He was once a drummer, and composed alternative rock music in his band of long ago (now disbanded), Rift. When little Naomi was still in utero, he and his wife played Vivaldi for her. The name 'Naomi' was aptly chosen--it reflects this love of music.
And lastly, but not least, in the book of Mishlei (Proverbs) there is a passage which has been incorporated into our tefilot*, which in the siddur* describes following the path of Torah--it uses this verb, no'am:
דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי נֹעַם, וְכָל נְתִיבוֹתֶיהָ שָׁלוֹם"
(Transliteration, so that non-Hebrew speakers can read it the way it sounds: deracheha darkei no'am, ve-chol netivoteha shalom.)
My prayer for my new grandchild is this: may little Naomi be as beautiful as her name, inside and out. May she have happiness, joy, and much music in her life. And finally, may she love and take pride in her Judaism and in the Torah which has sustained our people for millenia, and be the fulfilment of the passage above, which means,
"Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
*tefilot: Hebrew word for prayers
*siddur: the Jewish prayerbook