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When someone says Hashem's name in error, why do we say Boruch Shem Kevod Malchuso L'Olam Voed - ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד?

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So that it will be part of a praise, not just in vain. –  Double AA May 15 '12 at 17:11
    
There are many other words that can be part of a praise? –  Gershon Gold May 15 '12 at 17:12
    
Feel free to say them. –  Double AA May 15 '12 at 17:12
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Double AA - I think it is a legitimate question why a particular verse is chosen? If you disagree you can always downvote. –  Gershon Gold May 15 '12 at 17:15
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You never know. Perhaps there is a answer that you will even agree is spectacular. –  Gershon Gold May 15 '12 at 17:21
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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד

The above line was initially uttered by Ya'akov Avinu on his deathbed as a response to the unified proclamation of Shema Yisrael by his sons (Pesachim 56a). In the Temple, when the kohein gadol would pronounce the shem ham'forash, the people would respond by uttering this line (Yoma 66a).

The Gemara explains this practice as follows (ibid, 37a):

It was taught in a B'raisa: Rebbi said: "When I call out the Name of HaShem, ascribe greatness to our Lord" (D'varim 32:3). Moshe said to Israel: "When I utter the Name of the Holy One Blessed be He, you ascribe greatness [to Him]."

In fact, this, rather than amen, was always the standard response in the Temple because that is the only place where the shem havayah was uttered (Tosefta B'rachos, 6:22; Sifsei Chachamim, D'varim 32:3). According to the Tosefta, the use of this specific formulation is alluded to in Nechemya 9:5, where the Levites said:

‏…קוּמוּ בָּרְכוּ אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, מִן-הָעוֹלָם עַד-הָעוֹלָם; וִיבָרְכוּ שֵׁם כְּבֹדֶךָ…‏

Furthermore, the Midrash states that Moshe Rabbeinu ascended to heaven and observed the angels praising HaShem with this specific formulation (D'varim Rabba, 2:36; Tur, Orach Chayyim 619). Moshe therefore recognized that this specific formulation should be used.

The source for reciting this line after a b'rachah l'vatalah is the Yerushalmi B'rachos, 43b:

א"ר חייא בר ווא הדא אמרה אהן דנסב פוגלא ומברך עילוי והוא לא אתי לידיה צריך למברכה עילוי זמן תניינות אמר רבי תנחום בר יודן צריך לומר ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד שלא להזכיר שם שמים לבטלה

Translated:

Rabbi Tanchum bar Yudan said: He must say "baruch Shem k'vod malchuso l'olam va'ed" so as not to utter shem shamayim in vain.

The Rambam holds that if HaShem is praised as an antiphon to a mistaken utterance of His name, the utterance is not considered l'vatalah. This extends to praising HaShem with any similar phrase, such as "He is Blessed forever" or "He is exceedingly great and laudable" (Mishneh Torah, Hil. Sh'vu'os 12:11).

The Mishnas Ya'akov commentary argues that, in the special case of a b'racha l'vatalah, the Rambam would agree that one must use the specific formula stated in the Yerushalmi. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch in fact codify the requirement to recite ברוך שם in such a case (Orach Chayyim, 206:6).

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Are you sure the Tur and ShA mean that exact phrase? Why did the Yerushalmi pick that phrase in particular (according to those who say it has to be that phrase)? –  Double AA May 15 '12 at 19:27
    
@DoubleAA - 1.) They simply state to recite that phrase. 2.) I edited in reasons for this in the answer (it's the phrase the angels use, and its use was hinted to by the Levites in Nechemya). –  Fred May 15 '12 at 20:17
    
I don't disagree that the phrase has much historical and metaphysical significance: we say it as part of Keriyat Shema! I'm just not sure that the ShA isn't talking lav davka and why the phrase would have a connection to bracha levatala even if not. –  Double AA May 15 '12 at 20:20
    
@DoubleAA - As I wrote: "...if HaShem is praised as an antiphon to the utterance of His name, it is not considered l'vatalah." This follows logically from the above cited Gemara (Yoma 37a) about praising HaShem in response to mention of His name - if you praise, it is (retroactively) not in vain. The Tosefta understands "vivar'chu shem k'vodecha" as referring to such a response. Since "baruch shem" is so significant, was historically used responsively, AND fits the bill so well per Nechemya, it makes sense why it was chosen for that use in the Temple. Also, it is likely a mesorah.... –  Fred May 15 '12 at 20:29
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Ok Thanks. Nice write-up btw! +1 –  Double AA May 15 '12 at 20:36
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From here

וכן נכון לומר על כל ברכה לבטלה "ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד", הטעם לכך, כי במקום חשש חלול השם יש לקדש את השם באמירה זו.‏

It says that in case of fear for blasphemy we have sanctify the Name of G-d by these words. See the whole article for more details how these words helps to sanctify the Name of G-d.

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