Erasing the name of G-d:

Erasing the name of G-d:

In Hebrew/Lashon Hakodesh:[1] It is Biblically forbidden to erase even one letter of the seven names of G-d. These names include: [These names are:[2] Yud Kei Vav Kei[3]; Adniy; Keil; Eloka; Elokim; Elokaiy[4]; Shakaiy; Tzevakos[5]; Eh-yeh[6].]

In other languages:[7] A name of G-d which is written in languages other than Lashon Hakodesh is permitted to be erased. This applies whether one writes the name of G-d as He is referred to in that language [i.e. Go-d; Lord; Bog-a; Dei-s], or he writes the Hebrew name of G-d in the script of that language [i.e. Eloh-im instead of אלוקים].[8] This applies even if the name of G-d in a foreign language is written in Lashon Hakodesh [i.e. [גא-ט, בוגא.[9] However, some Poskim[10] rule that if the name of G-d was written in Hebrew letters and in the Ashuris [scribal] script, then it is forbidden to be erased even though the name is in a foreign language. Practically, one is to be stringent.[11] [Practically, even though the names may be erased, it is forbidden to treat the name with disrespect or cause it to be belittled, as will be explained next.]


[1] Michaber 276:9; Rambam Yesodei Hatorah 6:2; Shavuos 35a

[2] The list of names is found in the Gemara Shavuos 35a; Rambam Hilchos Yisodei Hatorah 6/2; Michaber 276/9. There are various versions and discrepancies between the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch as will be explained in footnotes below.

[3] May one recite the letters of this name or must he say Yud Kei Vav Kei? One is not to recite even the letters of the name and is rather to say Yud Kei Vav Kei. See Nagid Mitzvah in name of Arizal; Radbaz 5/1; Chasam Sofer Choshen Mishpat 192; Eretz Tzevi

[4] So writes Rambam Hilchos Yisodei Hatorah 6/2; not included in the list in Michaber 276/9; However see Kesef Mishneh ibid that brings another version of the Rambam which does not include Elokaiy, and so concludes Gr”a ibid to be the correct version.

[5] These are the seven names listed in Rambam Hilchos Yisodei Hatorah 6/2; See Kesef Mishneh who explains why the Rambam did not list the name Eh-yeh, and why the Rambam lists eight names if in truth they are seven. One explanation is that Adniy and Yud Kei are one name. Another explanation is that the true version of this Halacha in the Rambam omits the name Elokaiy.

May one say the name Tzeva-os? Yes. However, in Eretz Yisrael some are accustomed to say Tzevakos. According to all one is to write Tzeva-os with a dash. See Sheivet Halevy 9/217; Kinyan Torah 3/110; Mishneh Halachos 13/198; Rebbe in Hisvadyos 1983 2/850 that so is the custom to say Tzeva-os. The reason for this is because the name is also used for mundane purposes to refer to the legions of an army. [Rebbe ibid] or because the name is never used alone in the Torah and is always adjacent to another name. [Kinyan Torah ibid] See also Halichos Shlomo 22 footnote 32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/12

[6] Michaber ibid; Not listed in Rambam ibid, see Kesef Mishneh ibid

May one say the name Eh-yeh? One may do so if he does not intend to say Hashem’s name and is hence saying it for other reasons. See Halichos Shlomo 22 footnote 10; Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/12

[7] Admur 85:3 “This name has no holiness in its written letters and may be erased”; Admur 334:12 “If the names of Hashem are also written in a script or language other than Lashon Hakodesh they are not to be saved even during the week”; Shach Y.D. 179:11 “The name of G-d in Hebrew is a name, although in other languages it is not a name as is proven from the fact that one may erase the name of G-d written in other languages, such as Got in Yiddish or Bog in Russian and the like”; Tashbeitz 1:2; M”A 334:17 in name of Rambam, as writes Admur ibid; Implication of Rama 179:8; Zera Emes 2:120 in name of Tashbeitz ibid; Chavos Yair 106 regarding if written in non Ashuris letters; Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D. 276:11; M”B 85:10; Shaar Hatziyon 334:27; Sdei Chemed Kuntrus; Igros Moshe 2:55 “There is no prohibition to erase names of Hashem written in English, as English letters are not considered the names of Hashem, are a simply a sign for reading of which there is no prohibition”; Minchas Yitzchak 1:17; See Shiltei Giborim Perek Kol Kisvei on Shabbos 115a

Other opinions: Some Poskim question that perhaps the names of Hashem written in other languages contains holiness and may not be erased. Practically, they conclude that it is best to be stringent. [Shiltei Giborim Perek Kol Kisvei on Shabbos 115a, brought in M”A ibid]

[8] Admur ibid “If written in that script or language”; Igros Moshe ibid regarding writing the names of Hashem in English letters

[9] Shach ibid; See Admur ibid, based on M”A ibid and Rambam ibid, who rules that if they are written in Lashon Hakodesh and Kesav Ashuri, then in such a case the names have Kedusha and may be saved from a fire. This implies that the words must be in Lashon Hakodesh and be Ashuri script, and if it is in foreign language, it does not have Kedusha even if it is in Ashuri script. However, perhaps the intent is in Hebrew letters and Ashuri script, although this is not the simple implication of the previous words “That script or language”

[10] Chavos Yair ibid, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid who concludes to be Machmir

[11] Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid.

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