Q: If a person is gravely ill or in spiritual danger is a name change appropriate? Does he/she ever go back to the old name? What is the reason that the name of the sick person is spelled out in prayer in Psalm 119?
A: If a person is ill, a name may be added to his existing name. The original name then becomes his second name. The name should never be changed completely. The name added at the beginning of the name of an ill person should reflect health or positivity. Names such as Chaim, Refael, Chaya, the name of a tzaddik etc. should be used. Once a name has been added, the person should be called by that name “until 120 years.”
In chapter 119 of Psalms every letter of the alphabet has eight different verses. All of the verses refer to the clinging of the soul to the Torah, the study of Torah and the performance of the mitzvot of the Torah. We know that every Jewish soul has its origin in the Torah.
Spelling out a person’s name in this psalm arouses the root of his soul as it is present in the primordial Torah. By arousing the origin of the soul in the Torah through spelling the name in this chapter of Psalms one draws down life from the origin of the person’s soul as it is present in the Torah.
The eight verses in each letter of this chapter is also significant in that eight is the level of the supernatural. We know that seven is the consummation of nature, whereas eight is supernatural. This also means that the source of the soul is at a supernatural level, which can heal and rectify any blemish which happens to be at the level of nature.