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Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Six

Yesodei haTorah - Chapter Six

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Halacha 1

Whoever destroys one of the holy and pure names with which the Holy One, blessed be He, is called is liable for lashes according to Scriptural [Law].

[This punishment is given because such an act violates one of the Torah's prohibitions. The prohibition is derived as follows:] With regard to the worship of false gods, [Deuteronomy 12:3-4] states: "And you shall destroy their names from this place. Do not do this to God, your Lord."

Halacha 2

There are seven names [for God]:

a) The name which is written Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey. This is [referred to as God's] explicit name and is [also] written Alef-Daled-Nun-Yud.

b) [The name] El;

c) [The name] Elo'ah;

d) [The name] Elohim;

e) [The name] Elohai;

f) [The name] Shaddai;

g) [The name] Tz'vaot;

Whoever erases even one letter from [any of] these seven names is [liable for] lashes.

Halacha 3

All [the letters] which are connected to [God's] name, [but are placed] before [the name itself] may be erased - e.g., the lamed of Lamed-Alef-Daled-Nun-Yud or the bet of B’Elohim and the like. They do not possess the same degree of holiness as [God's] name [itself].

All [the letters] which are connected to [God's] name, [but placed] after [the name itself] - e.g., the final chaf of Elohecha or the chaf and the final mem of Eloheichem, and the like may not be erased. They are considered like the other letters of [God's] name, because the name conveys holiness upon them.

Although holiness is conveyed upon them and it is forbidden to erase them, nevertheless, a person who erases these letters which are connected to [God's] name is not [liable for] lashes. However, he does receives "stripes for rebelliousness."

Halacha 4

If one writes the alef and the lamed of the name Elohim or the yud and the hey of the name Yud-Hey–Vav–Hey, [these letters] may not be erased. Needless to say, the name Yud-Hey [may not be erased]. It is [considered as] a name in its own right because it is part of [God's] explicit name.

However, if one writes the shin and the dalet of the name Shaddai, or the tzadi and the bet of the name Tz'vaot, [these letters] may be erased.

Halacha 5

Other descriptive terms which are used to praise the Holy One, blessed be He - e.g., the Gracious, the Merciful, the Great, the Mighty, the Awesome, the Faithful, the Jealous, the Powerful, and the like, are considered as other holy texts and may be erased.

Halacha 6

[When God's] name is written on a utensil, one should cut off [God's] name and bury it. Even [when God's] name is engraved on a metal or glass utensil and one melts the utensil, one should be [punished by] lashing. Instead, one should cut off [God's] name and bury it.

Similarly, if [God's] name was written on one's flesh, one should not wash or anoint oneself. Nor may one stand in a place of filth. If it occurs that such a person must immerse because of a mitzvah, he should wind reeds around [the name] and immerse himself. If he cannot find reeds, he should wind his clothes around it, but should not [wind them] tightly so they will not intervene [between his flesh and the water]. [This is acceptable because] the reason he is required to wind reeds around it is only because it is forbidden to stand before [God's] name when he is naked.

Halacha 7

A person who removes even one stone from the altar, the Temple building, or the Temple courtyard with a destructive intent is [liable for] lashes. [The prohibition is derived as follows:] with regard to the worship of false gods, [Deuteronomy 12:3] states: "And you shall tear down their altars," and [the following verse] continues: "Do not do this to God, your Lord."

Similarly, a person who, with a destructive intent, burns wood consecrated to the Temple is [liable for] lashes. [The prohibition is derived as follows:] with regard to the worship of false gods, [Deuteronomy 12:3] states: "And you shall burn their asherot with fire," and [the following verse] continues: "Do not do this to God, your Lord."

Halacha 8

It is forbidden to burn or to destroy by direct action any sacred texts, their commentaries, and their explanations. A person who destroys them by his direct action is given "stripes for rebelliousness."

To what does the above apply? To sacred texts written by a Jew with a sacred intent. However, should a Jewish heretic write a Torah scroll, it and the name of God it contains must be burnt, since he does not believe in the sanctity of [God's] name and did not compose it for this purpose. Rather, he considers this to be similar to any other text. Since this is his intent, the names [of God he writes] do not become holy.

It is a mitzvah to burn it so that no remembrance will be left of the heretics or their deeds. In contrast, if a gentile writes [God's] name, it should be buried. Similarly, sacred texts that have become worn out or which were written by gentiles should be buried.

Halacha 9

All the names [of God] written in [the passage concerning] Abraham [and the angels] are sacred. Even [the name of God in Genesis 18:3]: "My Lord, if I have found favor in Your eyes," is also sacred. All the names [of God] written in [the passage concerning] Lot are not sacred, except [Genesis 19:18-19]: "And Lot said to them: `0 God, no! I have found favor in Your eyes... and You have saved my life.'"

All the names [of God] written in [the passage concerning] the hill of Benjamin are sacred. All the names [of God] written in [the passage concerning] Michah are not sacred. All the names [of God] written in [the passage concerning] Navot are sacred.

Every mention of the name "Shelomoh" in the Song of Songs is sacred, except [8:12]: "You, Shelomoh, may have the thousand." Every mention of the word "king" in the Book of Daniel is not sacred, except [2:37]: "You are the King, the King of kings." Its status is like other descriptive terms [for God].

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