Chapter 6: The names of G-d
Halacha 1: The prohibition against destroying the name of G-d
- Anyone who destroys [i.e. erases] one of the holy names of G-d receives biblical lashes.
Halacha 2: The seven names
- There are total of seven names of G-d under the above transgression:
- Yud Kei Vav Kei, which is the explicit name of G-d, and is also written as Adonaiy.
- Erasing one letter of these names: If one erases even one letter from the above seven names, he is liable for lashes.
Halacha 3: Letters attached to G-d’s name
- Precede the name of G-d: All letters attached to the names of G-d, which precede the name of G-d, are allowed to be erased.
- Example: For example, the Lamed of LaHashem and Beis of BeiElokim may be erased.
- Proceed the name of G-d: All letters attached to the names of G-d, which proceed the name of G-d, are prohibited from being erased just like the name of G-d itself, as the name of G-d sanctifies them. Nonetheless, one who erases these letters is not liable to receive biblical lashes although he does receive rabbinical lashes.
- Example: For example, the Chaf of Elokecha and Chem of Elokeichem may not be erased.
Halacha 4: Erasing a partial name of G-d
- If the name of G-d was only partially written, then whether or not it may be erased depends on the name.
- Elokim and Havayah: The first two letters of the names Elokim and Havayah, which spell out El and Kah, may not be erased even if they alone were written, being that these letters are a central part of the divine name.
- Shakaiy and Tzevaos: The first two letters of the names Shakaiy and Tzevaos may be erased.
Halacha 5: Erasing the nicknames of G-d
- It is permitted to erase the nicknames of G-d such as the words Chanun, and Rachum, Gadol, Gibor, Norah, Neman and Kano and Chazak.
Halacha 6: If the name of G-d is written on a vessel or one’s body
- Vessels: If the name of G-d is written on a vessel, then the vessel may not be destroyed, and one who does so is liable for lashes. This applies even by a metal or glass vessel which contains the name of G-d engraved within it, then if the vessel was melted in fire, one is liable for lashes.
- Rather, if one wants to destroy the vessel he must first cut out the area with G-d’s name.
- The body: If the name of G-d is written on one’s skin, then he may not wash it off. He may also not enter into a filthy area. He may also not stand naked in front of it. If he needs to immerse for the sake of a mitzvah, then he must first lightly bind a reed, and if not available than a cloth, onto the area of the skin that contains the divine name
Halacha 7: Destroying a part of the temple
- It is forbidden to destroy a stone from the altar or from the Heichal or Azarah, and one who does so is liable for lashes.
- Sanctified wood: One who destroys wood do that was sanctified for the temple is liable for lashes.
Halacha 8: Destroying the books of Scripture [i.e. Tanach]
- It is forbidden to destroy books of Scripture, and one who does so is liable for rabbinical lashes.
- Written by a Jewish apostate: If a Jewish apostate wrote a Torah scroll is to be burnt together with its names of G-d, as he does not believe in the holiness of the name of G-d and it was therefore not written for the sake of heaven, and therefore has no holiness. In fact, it is a mitzvah to burn it in order not to leave an everlasting memory for heretics and their actions.
- Written by Gentile: If a Gentile wrote the name of G-d, or wrote books of Scripture, it is to be placed in Geniza.
- Worn out books of Scripture: Books of Scripture which are worn-out are to be placed in Geniza.
Halacha 9: The status of the names of G-d written in various areas in Scripture
- The names by Avraham: All the names written regarding Avraham are holy.
- The names by Lot: All the names written regarding Lot are mundane.
- The names by the hills of Benjamin: All the names written regarding the hills of Benjamin are holy.
- The names by Micha: All the names written regarding Micha are mundane.
- The names by Navos: All the names written regarding Navos are holy.
- The name Shlomo: All the names of Shlomo written in Shir Hashirim are holy except for the word “Ha’alef Lecha Shlomo.”
- Malchaya: All the words Malchaya written regarding Daniel are mundane except for Ant Hu Malka Melech Malchaya.