It's very worth reading the comments, especially Devorah's insights.
So thank you very much to her, Rav Anava, and the commenters.
And no, I haven't had a chance to listen to shiur within the post.
(So if anything written here contradicts what Rav Anava says, then go with him because in such a case, he's right and I'm wrong.)
Anyway, I think people can get good guidance and inspiration from their Hebrew name, if you're knowledgeable about the person or meaning behind your name.
Both Chana and Leah Imeinu invested heart and soul in prayer. In fact, that's what each one is famous for. Furthermore (and this goes together), emuna permeated their being.
So a Chana Leah should have great potential as a profound davener & baalat emuna.
(This includes those whose name is either Chana or Leah, not necessarily together although the combination of 2 extraordinary daveners seems quite powerful.)
But what if your name is Chana Leah and you've always considered yourself a poor davener who feels distant from Hashem?
So...I've noticed that in people who have tremendous potential in a particular area that sometimes their yetzer hara does everything it can to quash them in that particular area. Especially with tefillah, there's a tremendous resistance to connecting with Hashem in a heartfelt manner.
Tefillah can change so much. It's literally the most powerful act anyone can engage in. It sweetens dinim, it reaps miracles, it brings Mashiach, and so much more.
So anything that wants the world to be a Mashiach-less trashy bitter world will do everything it can to quash a person who unknowingly possesses tremendous potential in this area.
However, once you get over that hurdle, you might discover a thriving new you able to utilize tremendous potential you never knew you had.
That's just one example.
Also, Chana means "challah, niddah, hadlakat neirot" (essential mitzvot for women) and its root is "chen" -- often translated as "grace" or "charm" or a kind of beauty (not necessarily physical beauty). So take that into account too.
I'm not sure why. Perhaps it has to do with how flowers themselves need to be nurtured to grow properly. Also, flowers display obvious stages of growth, they blossom, they provide pollen, nutrients, visual beauty, and scents which benefit others.
So rose-named people seem to want to help others blossom and flourish by providing others with a variety of nurturing (symbolized by the rose's attributes: pollen, nutrients, beautifying their environment, and giving off a good beneficial scent).
This nurturing doesn't always manifest as stereotypical nurturing - i.e., gentle, cuddly nurture. Some of these "roses" possess strong, outgoing personalities.
Regardless, many of these "roses" find themselves in roles where they're helping others be the best they can be. A lot of "roses" seem to be into healing, especially via natural methods like herbs, healthy diet, and so on.
But again, this nurturing others to be their best can sometimes be expressed in a way that dominating or aggressive -- like they've decided what's best for the other person (even if that's actually not what is best) and now they're going to bully that person into fulfilling that "potential."
Our challenge is always to use our innate character traits in the healthiest way possible.
As another example, one such rose-named woman I know clearly possesses so much compassion for others and a real desire to heal others and nurture them -- but she's consumed with bitterness. It's like a klippah over the real, wonderful her underneath. So she's in constant conflict because of that. But she's got amazing potential and I really hope she'll break through one day to fulfill her very real and helpful qualities.
So again, it's not that your personality is going to be a certain way. Some "roses" are extroverted and very hands-on while others are more introverted and reticent. Some act out their nurturing in a very positive way while others do so in a negative way.
To my mind, it's more about possessing certain qualities or a certain essence. And your personality and psychological/spiritual health determine how those qualities find expression.
They can be good at giving chizuk, support, encouragement, down-to-earth advice, or just be a nice rock to lean on.
Regardless, many Nechamas are indeed comforting however they express it according to their individual personality.
Looking around, I realized she was right.
I think you also find a lot of Yehudahs in some kind of leadership position. Or maybe that's just because it's such a common name.
This all makes sense because Yehudah is a progenitor of Mashiach. Yehudah is royalty. His name also contains Hashem's Name, plus the meaning "gratitude" and "confession."
Pretty powerful stuff.
It's the feminine form of the name "Yehudah" -- with all that implies.
Furthermore, the most famous Yehudit was a wealthy, intelligent, committed woman who tricked a wicked general and cut off his head, saving the Jewish people.
I've noticed that many Yehudits are extremely competent people. They've got their act together and tend to be good at running things, including their home. They've got high standards for themselves (which sometimes translates into high standards for others). They tend not to put themselves in the limelight, but instead focus on their own ideals and living up to those ideals.
They're often incredibly faithful, dedicated people, particularly to their family members.
Just like our most famous Yehudit.
It's so bizarre, the only thing I can think of is that the stereotypically feminine ending ("AH") is what throws them off. I guess they imagine it's a feminine name, although it's always only ever used as a boy's name, so I still don't understand why they give that name to their daughters without even feminizing it to "Yehudit."
Sure, some male names are feminized, like I've known a couple of Yaakovas and I've heard of a Yitzchaka and an Avrahama here and there. I've even heard of a Shmuella!
So people sometimes feminize male names, but I haven't seen this Yehudah-for-a-girl phenomenon with any other boy names, like a girl named Mordechai or Yechezkel, so I'm assuming it's the "AH" that's making the difference.
Furthermore, I grew up traditional-assimilated and even with my limited exposure to authentic Judaism, I would've thought that naming a girl "Yehudah" would've been a very weird thing.
And no, these are not generally such extremely assimilated Jews that they have no clue that Yehudah is only ever a boy's name. Maybe some of them are, but the ones I've known aren't.
So I really don't understand this, but it certainly exists (unfortunately).
Giving gender-specific names to the opposite gender is actually very harmful.
To contrast: "Yonah" can be a perfectly legitimate girl's name if you're naming her after a dove. Or it can be a perfectly legitimate boy's name if you're naming him after Yonah Hanavi in Tanach.
But most Hebrew names are specifically for one gender or the other.
So the female Yehudahs I've known have been very likable, but there's definitely some kind of block against their full feminine qualities shining through in a positive way. With one such female Yehudah, she always told me since high school that she wanted a hysterectomy because she was so certain she never wanted to have children.
I remember finding this odd because she liked children so much and was known as a good babysitter.
Fortunately, she later became frum and went to a rav to change her name to Yehudit.
After that, she felt more open toward having children and did indeed marry and become a mother. She later explained she felt that carrying a purely male name caused such a strong resistance to birthing children because that is a definite feminine tafkid and not at all a male one, and so the male aspect overwhelmed the female in her psyche.
But you can really mess up your kids by giving them a name that's clearly wrong for their gender.
Regardless, I've noticed that many Gittys and Tovahs possess an extra measure of compassion or just plain goodness. They want to be good to others and have others enjoy a good life.
Sometimes, this goodness is very much under the radar. Some Gittys and Tovahs can even come off as somewhat cold at first glance. And it can take you by surprise when their sincere goodness underneath is suddenly & unexpectedly expressed.
(Although again, sometimes that empathy doesn't manifest clearly and needs to be drawn out.)
Batya literally means "daughter of God" and was also the name of the very empathetic daughter of Pharoah who saved Moshe Rabbeinu's life.
So there you go.
To sum up:
- Your name points to a special essence within you.
- This essence can be expressed positively or negatively.
- If you're named after someone in Tanach, it's good to explore that person's personality based on how they're described in Tanach and what the mefarshim say about them.
- Your name's basic meaning is important to explore & understand too.
- Non-person names (like "nature" names, etc.) also hold special meaning in Judaism. For example, "Aryeh" or "Leib" is a lion and Judaism has quite a lot to say about its symbolism. Ditto with any deer names (Ayal, Ayalet, Tzvi, Ayalah, Hindy, Hirsch). "Tal" (dew) also contains tremendous symbolism.
- Even with names that aren't rife with symbolism or aren't represented by actual Tanach personalities (i.e. Chaim/Life or Bracha/Blessing), you can still delve into their basic powerful meaning and see what you can get out of it.
- Most people feel an affinity with whatever Tanach person shares their name. That's really good and can be a great source of steady inspiration.
- If you have an doubts or quandaries about your name (or the name of your parents or children), make sure you go to a reputable rabbi who has expertise in this area to sort things out.
- If you feel very distant or resistant to your name's meaning or what the original person with that name represents, it could be a sign that you actually have tremendous potential in this exact area, but are being quashed by the Dark Side.
- If your essence seems like it's being quashed, don't despair. Use iron force of will and plead with Hashem to help you overcome it. Hopefully, you'll experience a welcome and eye-opening breakthrough. Remember, it's definitely there within you -- it just needs to be accessed.