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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 (253)
March 20, 2016
Rafael, below, suggests Gd rather than G-d. Why not, Rabbi Moss? Why bother trying to get around the hyphen? Why not just omit the hyphen? Hebrew letters scarcely include vowels anyway. At worst, someone will think you made a typo, but they will know Who GD is. In fact, in trying to type G-d, you may indeed make a typo and type 0, which looks almost exactly like O. Let's see: O0. The letter is a tiny bit rounder, but unless they are side by side, an 0 looks like an O. So when you type a hyphen you risk typing an 0.

Oh-oh!

Nancy
Oklahoma!
March 20, 2016
Why bother with a dash or underscore? Why not just say Gd? The machine is OK with that.

That is what Hebrew does too: the letters hardly ever include vowels, but only suggest them, as a final HEH suggests that it is preceded by "ah" (and even so, it could be "eh").

In the middle of a word, we must know the Hebrew word and supply the vowels ourselves. In the prayerbook, someone has supplied--UNDER the actual letters--various dots & other tiny marks almost indistinguishable to my elderly eyes. I cannot see the difference between two dots side by side versus a tiny patach-mark. My vocabulary is fewer than 100 words. Unless I know a particular prayer by heart I struggle to sound it out. But people who speak Hebrew can, & do, read the prayer, even for the first time, without the dots that enable ignorant men like me.

Even I can recognize that "Gd" stands for a title of the Master of the Universe (Ribbono shel Olam: a popular Hebrew circumlocution which Isaac, below, neglected).
Eddie
Seattle
March 20, 2016
When trying to type G - d all together on my new phone, it replaces it with the following emoji. ..... :-! So I use G_d (underscore instead of dash) instead.
Anonymous
Here
March 17, 2016
The internet is like real life. If your hard drive is full of good, then it is a holy machine. Treat it with respect. However, if your computer is your way to connect to evil, then it is just filthy junk for discarding.
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
March 16, 2016
To all those who demand that Jews throw out millennia of reverence for Gd's Name
Those of us who honor the millennia-old reverence for names or titles [in any language] for "Gd" generally use reverent substitute phrases. For example, we say, "The Holy [One], blessed [be] He," which in Hebrew is Ha-Kadosh Baruch Hu" or even HKBH for short. Or we say, Ha-Shem, literally "The Name". With such phrases we can refer to the One without danger of disrespect to His Name or Title.

So the real question becomes, How can you! Yet you demand that we ditch our sacred reverence. Do Jews rebuke Christians for decorating evergreen trees in December? Or dream up ways to find this custom irreverent? Or claim to be "appalled" at this custom? Certainly not! Christian choices of ways of expressing reverence for the Divine are for Christians to decide. In fact, they are nobody else's business!

So--now that you know WHY we don't spell out the Name, why do you imagine you should approve--or not? It is not yours to approve how others express reverence. It is nothing to do with you.
Isaac
Albequerque
March 16, 2016
Craig Hamilton
We come from a culture whose alphabet lacks vowels, so for us it is not "misspelling" to omit the vowels from any words, especially when such omission enables us to signal a reference to the Holy Name without actually subjecting the Name to being abused.

There is no way that I could conceive of vowel omission as irreverent, since the classic Torah scrolls have scarcely any vowels. Anyone who knows Hebrew usually knows what vowel to insert into a word.

As mentioned months ago on this thread, if the Name appears in written form, it becomes subject to being thrown in the garbage or otherwise indecently placed near something unseemly. I would feel extremely guilty subjecting the Name to the mercy of those who lack reverence for it--who might, for example, print out a post and throw it in the trash. I do, however, expect to see it printed out in, for example, Bibles and prayer books, or other items which I can similarly hope would be treated reverently.
Harry
San Jose
March 16, 2016
To Anonymous:

You are appalled at what? I do not pronounce the word Gd except in prayer, in reading the scriptures aloud, or in blessing someone.

You say, "right?" as if I am supposed to be familiar with phrases to take the Name in vain. But I don't, so, no, I cannot imagine what you are talking about. You need to realize that I belong to a community that never uses the Name in vain, never speaks it except in utmost reverence. In this community, we do not watch TV and almost never attend movies where--so we are told--we might encounter immodest or irreverent sights and words which would appall us. Please spare us from knowing whatever phrase it is you have in mind for taking in vain the Holy Name. Thank you.
Yitzchak
Indianapolis
March 16, 2016
Take care!
Trying to misspell words can also be a way of disrespecting that which they describe; so be careful.
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
March 16, 2016
I noticed this a while back and was appalled. I hope you realize that the use of those two letters only are used as the abbreviated form of a phrase used to take his name in vain right?
Anonymous
USA
March 14, 2016
A computer is nothing but a vessel for the applications that run on it. Without applications running, your computer is pretty much a box. So whatever application you're using, or smartphone, you can just make your spellcheck easier by just adding the G-d to dictionary. You'll see the option to do so.
Anonymous
USA