I’ve recently stumbled upon a Q&A on your site that explains the reason why many Orthodox Jews write “G‑d” (with a hyphen), as opposed to “God.” I was wondering, does this rule apply across the board—whether writing by hand or typing on a computer?
Thanks for contacting us.
As explained in the article you reference, it is considered disrespectful, and hence forbidden, to erase the name of G‑d.
Regarding computer screens, however, most halachic authorities deem a computer screen and its contents—even names of G‑d or words of Torah—to have no sanctity. As opposed to handwriting or the printed word, which are intended to be permanent, there is no intention for words typed on a computer screen to be permanent; as soon as you finish your work you close the screen and everything there is “erased.” (The encrypted data on the hard drive has no halachic significance.) It’s not a medium intended to support anything of permanence, as the pixels which make up the letters on a computer screen are constantly being refreshed and are considered to be more virtual than they are real.
Moreover, even as we type and move the cursor on a screen, the letters and their positions are constantly moving on the screen—erasing them from one area on the screen and recreating them elsewhere—making erasing a constant act.
One can therefore erase the name of G‑d or words of Torah from a computer screen. It follows, therefore, that there’s also no need to type a hyphenated “G‑d.”
Practically speaking, however, I’d advise you to accustom yourself to always write “G‑d” with a hyphen, apostrophe, underscore, etc., even when typing on a computer. It's a good habit to adopt, and furthermore, there’s always the concern that you or someone else will print out the text typed on the computer.
I hope this helps, and feel free to explore further on our site.
Rabbi Vidal Bekerman
for Ask the Rabbi @ chabad.org