My workmate has the same name as my mother. Am I allowed to mention her name when I talk about work?

Answer

If the name is unusual, one may mention the workmate’s name not in your mother’s presence, but in her presence you should not use this name. However, if the name is common, you may use it to refer to your workmate even if your mother is present. (Sha”ch, Y.D. 240:3)

However, there is a more stringent view, that holds that if the name is unusual you should avoid mentioning it even if your mother is not present. If the name is common, you may mention it if your mother is not there, but not in her presence. (Ta’Z, Y. D. 240:5)

The reason for these prohibitions is because your mother (or others present) may think that you are referring to her by her name, which is disrespectful. It follows, then, that if it is clear to your mother that you are talking about your friend, there would be no problem. Nonetheless,  extra sensitivity is advised in order not to cause any misunderstanding.

[Rav Moshe Feinstein (Iggros Moshe, Y.D. vol 1 siman 133) rules that nowadays even the more stringent view would permit mentioning a common name in the parent’s presence, ע”ש]

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