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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 (184)
August 7, 2014
Shalom to Sydney and all others on this thread
I, for one, agree with you, that we should call Hashem by His/Her true names, but never casually, only with great Love and Awe, when discussing anything whatsoever is in the Worlds above or Below. Because, Hashem is the absolute, the One above all things whatsoever, and should have the utmost reverence in our consideration of how we should speak of Him, but particularly His/Her NAMES as they affect all of creation, and not as some common thing or name.
Eleazar Shlomo ben Yakov Goldman
Guanajuato, MEXICO
August 7, 2014
Meaning of G-d
Rabbi and others,

I have a personal belief that may be different to others and I totally respect that but by using G-d instead of his true name is taking away the pureness of the belief itself. I believe that we instead of hiding a belief behind a - we should use his true name and be proud of what we believe. If whoever may deface the name then they have a belief and an incorrect viewing of what they should do with the name but that is their belief and you have to respect that view that they have even though it may not be the one you also believe in two. We should truly be proud of the name of God and no hide it nor deface it but show others that we are proud to be who we are. I believe we should be proud of it as well.

Sydney, Australia
Anonymous
July 17, 2014
Spelling G-d's name
Rabbi,


I thank you for the explanation. The more I read and seek I find that G-d deserves greater respect than we give him even in the smallest things.

Too much intellectual and logical thinking.

How about if we all could start giving him honor and appreciation from the heart no matter what.

Isn't it what G-d is more concern in the condition of your heart.
Anonymous
United States
June 1, 2014
Back atcha, Eric
I do not find your remark disrespectful. The western view of words is exactly as you stated. I merely wanted to share the fact that Hebrew words are different and are far from arbitrary. You are free to retain your own beliefs, but those who have not yet settled on what they think might find i t helpful to know that there is another way to look at words.

Someone very dear to me, may he rest in peace, used to say that the word for a thing had nothing to do with the thing itself.

I think he believed in Mother Nature rather than in Gd. He was a Holocaust survivor.

All the same, he used to attend my Seder and to help me put up my sukkah.

I did not argue with him. This is a position widely taken among intellectuals, and I can scarcely find it offensive. It's fine. We agree to disagree, that's all.

All the best to you.
Inanna
Buffalo
May 30, 2014
G-d
My apologies to any who may have found my earlier post (May 14, 2014) to be disrespectful. It should not be our mission in life to silence, let alone denounce, the beliefs of others. But there is an obvious difference of opinion among many visiting this site about what counts as "substance" in matters of the religious life, hence my own commentary.
Eric Cummer
Toronto
May 29, 2014
Eric Cummer says that words are only symbols.
Iin Hebrew, each letter has a meaning. Bet means House. Gimel means Camel. Dalet means Door. Ayin (a silent letter) means Eye. And so on. Each word has a two- or three-letter root and these letters have meaning which relate to the meaning of the word.

So, in Hebrew, a word has power for good or harm. If a word is mispronounced, and the wrong word is spoken, it affects the physical universe. It is vitally important to be careful to speak only that which we wish to happen, and to avoid boasting of good fortune. If we absolutely must pronounce the possibility of a negative outcome, we need to avert it with an expression such as "Gd forbid" and when we speak of the good we expect, we need to say "Gd willing" (preferably in Hebrew). Devout Jews are careful what we say or write.

And English letters derive from Hebrew letters. G derives from Gimel; D derives from Dalet. The word "Gd" may have power.

But why argue with our reverence? Instead, respect it, as I respect yours..
Inanna
Buffalo
May 28, 2014
a word is nothing but an abstract symbol
I can agree with your theorum and analysis, except in the case of Hebrew or Aramaic. As everyone knows, there are 4 levels to enter into the orchard of TORAH, and they all have to do with what is hidden and revealed in the words themselves. !st, the literal meaning called Pshat. 2nd, the "hint" in the words, called Remes. 3rd, the commentaries, written by the great Sages of Israel on the various parts of TORAH, called Drash. 4th, the deepest and most hidden level of TORAH, where the mystical meaning is tranmitted to the soul who seeks the Holy One, called Sod, or Secret meaning. The Names of Hashem conceal very great secrets regarding the worlds above and below, the creation of existance from Nothing, and the beings that inhabit them.
Eleazar Shlomo ben Yakov Goldman
Guanajuato, MEXICO
May 14, 2014
G-d
I think everybody will agree that a word is nothing but an abstract symbol until it is infused with meaningful content, and that is as true of "god words" as it is of any other kind of word. Again, the value of a word derives from its inherency, its content, and not from the symbol itself. To miss that point is always to run the risk of idolatry. In Judaism, as in its sister religion, Christianity, much of that content comes from the historical narrative of the scriptures, for G-d, unlike the idol, actively exists not only in His Otherness, but also within the history of "the image-bearing man himself".
Eric Cummer
Toronto
May 10, 2014
"God" is not a name! It is WHAT he is.
Jennifer
Kansas City, Missouri
May 7, 2014
What "logical" reason are we here? Not trying to start an argument but if you use the term logical, explain please because I haven't heard a single logical fact to why we are here.
jeffro
KANSAS
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