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Often in sefarim we find that if the number of the siman spells out something negative, such as siman 304 which has a letter value of שד, we switch it around so it no longer reads as a "bad" word. Here's an example in the Tur. Here's another and another and another.

When and where did this custom originate? Did the original Tur have this configuration, or was it modified by later printers? Can it be found in earlier books?

Furthermore, does it really serve a purpose? How would it matter if a siman reads רעה?

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Just wondering what exactly Ayin Hara has to do with anything? –  Hacham Gabriel Feb 9 '12 at 2:59
    
@HachamGabriel its just my guess at where the answer will be headed. –  Baal Shemot Tovot Feb 9 '12 at 3:25
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@Vram According to Hebrewbooks, yours were published in 1861 and mine in 1631. –  Double AA Feb 9 '12 at 5:03
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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/10294. –  msh210 Feb 9 '12 at 5:54
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Don't they also skip over "good" numbers? Like various forms of G-d's name –  user1095 Feb 12 '12 at 12:35

2 Answers 2

Because we avoid writing words which have a negative connotation as an attempt to disassociate Torah with negativity.

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The question already said that. What are you adding? –  Double AA Mar 11 '12 at 21:19

I think this falls under categories such as lashon naki which do not have clear parameters (Halachot of Lashon Naki (clean speech))

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