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Why Don't You Spell Out G-d's Name?

Why Don't You Spell Out G-d's Name?

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Question:

As you know, I'm not a "believer." I am a logical person -- I only believe in things that can be logically proven. But I was just interested: Why do you always write "G‑d"?

Answer:

We do not write G‑d's name in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating G‑d's name with reverence is a way to give respect to G‑d. So even though on a computer the name is not really being erased (and perhaps is not really there in the first place), and "G‑d" is only an English term used to translate G‑d's holy name, it is in keeping with this respect that I write "G‑d" in my emails and on-line articles.

This causes problems. No matter how many times I write "G‑d", the spell-check on the computer has no idea what I mean. "G‑d" is not in its dictionary, and it won't accept it as an addition to the dictionary. So the computer comes up with all types of suggested corrections: Go, Do, G'day. And often half the name ends up on a new line: G-
d.

I guess I shouldn't expect any better. No matter how smart a computer is, certain things are beyond it. How would you program a computer to have respect for G‑d's name? It is unreasonable to ask a computer to relate to G‑d, because G‑d is not a logical concept -- He created intellect, and He cannot be captured by His own creation. A computer is limited to logic, so it can't handle spiritual concepts. Just as a metal-detector will beep when a gun is passed through it, but it cannot pick up a person's thoughts or intentions, intellect can grasp logic and rationale, but it cannot detect the Divine.

But a human is not a computer. Intellect is not where we begin and end. We have a soul that is beyond intellect, and our soul detects G‑d because our soul sees G‑d.

Jewish faith is about getting in touch with the soul that knows G‑d already, without needing any proof. This is not negating intellect -- it is transcending it.

How do you get in touch with your soul? Ask G‑d. He'll tell you.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (264)
December 25, 2016
Dear Rabbi Moss, Why not omit the hyphen? Write Gd. That way the computer
will not put the "d" on the next line. It will treat it as part of the word--which it IS.

I always omit the hyphen for that very reason.

Please don't tell me to insert the hyphen. Is there really any reason to keep the hyphen? Can't you omit it?
Ann
Kansas City
December 25, 2016
I don't get why you write "G-d."
You don't write "H-Sh-m..."
"God" is not The Name. It is more like a title, such as "President" or "Leader." "god" (small 'g') denotes any god, idol, or other item of worship in any religion. "God" (capital 'g') denotes a specific deity based on the writer's religion - but it could be any deity, depending on the writer. It is a generic term to indicate a specific thing, exactly like HaShem.
The Name itself starts with Y and ends with H. (Or, perhaps, J and H.) I can understand not using that; I don't use it inappropriately, either.

This is not to criticize the practice. I understand it.
It just seems odd that you would give reverent treatment to a word that is not The Name.
The perception from the outside is that you are trying to be reverent about... well... something, but are confused about the important part - the very Name that you revere!
Wayne
September 1, 2016
Having read Rabbi Moss' reply, I see that he does not answer the question.
First, Hebrew has no vowel letters. The sacred scroll of the Five Books of Moses has no vowels of any kind.
Prayerbooks aid the reader with added "vowels" via dots and dashes under or over the actual letters.
So of course we are "ashamed" of the Name.
What a bizarre accusation!!!
I wish Rabbi Moss would mention, up front, that we do spell out the word in sacred texts such as the Bible and prayerbooks.

But if we post on the internet, or write a letter, with one of the sacred names in it--in any language--that sacred name is subjected to others, who might throw it into the garbage or even flush it into the sewer. Either way, the sacred name would then be smeared with filth, dishonoring it.
We avoid exposing the Name even to the friend who receives our letter, for he may not want to keep the letter safe forever and ever in order to protect the Name in it.
As for sacred texts--we hope they will be respected.
Avram
Newark
August 31, 2016
To Anonymous on being "ashamed"
Gd says not to take His Name in vain. He also says not to erase His Name.

If you choose to dishonor the Holy Name by writing it where anyone might print it out and then scratch it out--and you cannot be sure nobody will do that--we cannot stop you. But at the very least you can recognize that Jews honor the name and protect it and only write it in Bibles, prayerbooks, and other sacred texts, and avoid writing it in a public forum that makes it subject to mistreatment by those who disrespect it.

It is you who treat the name shamefully by exposing it to the abuse of who-knows-who. You should be ashamed of your disrespect.
Gary
Philadelphia
August 30, 2016
Maybe God is telling you something
Maybe God is telling you to not be ashamed of Him and to write out "God".
Anonymous
Anytown, USA
August 22, 2016
Thank you , Our God is Holy, I am so sorry that even asked the question. My heart leaped for joy when I read your answer. Keep His Name Holy, above all Names. Yours truly
Joann Petty
CARTHAGE
June 1, 2016
I do realize that God is spelled out as God in the Bible, so I figure it that that's the way He prefers it.
Tim
May 31, 2016
You asked why we respect Gd's Name. We told you. You need to accept that.
Gd told the Jews not to take His Name in vain. That means not to write it anywhere but in sacred texts, such as the Bible and the prayerbook, and not to speak it except while praying or reading sacred texts aloud.

You have a right to your opinion even if you disagree with Gd's commandments.

You do not have a right to pretend to be "holier than thou" because you proudly proclaim your eagerness to deface Gd's name. If you write it, you subject it to being erased or defaced or soiled by some stranger on the web who prints it out and, for example, covers it with whiteout or throws the paper in the trash. Or worse. Just because you don't care how the Name is treated, doesn't mean that Jews should not care.
David
Toronto
May 29, 2016
I agree with Katy, besides, those who do deface the name of God are a reminder to us believers that evil always lurks just around the corner and by showing themselves, we can now try to save them.
Larry Klimek
Howell
May 25, 2016
Ahhhhh! No...not falling for that...God is God and putting a little symbol in the middle doesn't seem right! God doesn't mind if we spell out his name!
God bless
Anonymous
Katy