- Question: [Wednesday, 26th Adar, 5781]
Dear Rabbi, I work with gold and just received a shipment of gold Chamsot that contain God’s name of Yud Kei Vav Kei engraved on them [with a Hei and not a Kei, and with no dash] just as is written in the Sefer Torah. My question is am I allowed to melt the gold and use it for other purposes for the sake of resale.
No. It is absolutely Biblically forbidden to melt it due to the prohibition of erasing one of God’s seven names of which Yud Kei Vav Kei is one of them. Thus, the only option is to either sell it as it is or cut out the gold surrounding God’s name and place the gold with God’s name in Geniza. To note, that nobody should be printing God’s name in this method even on a Chamsa, as this forces it to be treated with special holiness [i.e. may not be entered into the bathroom, may not have a child walk around naked opposite it or be changed, etc. etc] and not everyone knows to be careful in this matter and thus those who make such gold ornaments are in transgression of Halacha which forbids doing so, and can be guilty of making the public stumble in a matter that the Poskim write that can bring poverty to the Jewish people! Therefore, my advice to you from both a halachic and business perspective [as I am sure that your business does not want to have anything to do with something that brings poverty] is to simply cut out God’s name, place it in Geniza, and then you can melt the rest of the gold. You should not, and possibly halachically may not, resell it as is.
Explanation regarding erasing the name: It is Biblically forbidden to destroy or erase one of the seven divine names of G-d. This applies whether the names are written with ink or engraved, as an engraving has the same status as regular writing. Now, while perhaps one can make an attempted argument that so long as no Jew has ever read the Chamsa, and it was printed by machine onto the gold, then perhaps it does not have any holiness, practically even by printed Sefarim the majority of today’s Poskim are stringent, and even amongst those who are lenient they are stringent if God’s name is written on it that it automatically contains holiness, and thus there’s absolutely no room to be lenient especially by a Biblical prohibition, and all the more so when it’s possible that a Jew did read the words on the Chamsa.
Explanation regarding initially writing the name and reselling it: The Poskim rule that it is absolutely forbidden to write God’s name unnecessarily, not in an actual Sefarim, and therefore it is forbidden for to be written on Kemios, which would certainly include a prohibition for it to be written on a Chamsa. Now, although the person who received the gold Chamsa is not guilty of having written God’s name on them, nonetheless the reason behind the prohibition is because the name of God may become belittled when not written an actual book, and therefore due to this reason he should not at all be involved in selling or distributing such items, and seemingly it would fall under the very same prohibition against writing it to begin with. Whatever the case, since the Poskim write that belittling God’s name causes poverty amongst the Jewish people, it would be a most unwise idea for a business to be involved in selling such items if they desire the business to prosper.
Sources: Regarding the prohibition of erasing one of seven God’s name see: Michaber 276:9; Rambam Yesodei Hatorah 6:2; Shavuos 35a Regarding that engraving has the same status as writing see: Admur 340:7; Gittin 20a; Taz Y.D. 271:8; Masas Binyamin 99-100; Regarding that printed material has holiness and that God’s name has holiness even if it was never read by a Jew, see: Taz Y.D. 271:8 regarding printed; Admur 42:6 regarding Hazmanah Milsa Hi; M”A 334; M”B 334:50; Noda Beyehuda 173; Avnei Nezer Y.D. 376 is no lenient by Hashems name; Igros Moshe 4:39; Ginzei Hakodesh 1:1 footnote 4; 8:6 and p. 254 in responses of Harav Wozner; 8:9; Milum 3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 145 footnote 105; Regarding the prohibition of writing God’s name on surfaces other Sefarim due to that may become belittled and that this brings poverty to the Jewish people see: Admur 334:13; Rama Y.D. 276:13; Michaber 179:12; Beis Yosef 334; Taz 334:14; Rashba 2:281; Kitzur SHU”A 6:3; Ketzos Hashulchan 5:41; Nesivos Hamishpat Choshen Mishpat 27:2; Smeh; Aruch Hashulchan Choshen Mishpat 27:3 in name of many Gedolei Yisrael; Igros Moshe 55