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In 1983-1984, the Hebrew year was 5744. Normally, the year would have been spelled out in Hebrew letters תשמ״ד, but according to my rabbi then, Rabbi Phillip Rabinowitz, zt'l, as pronounced the word would mean "annihilation" and therefore we should change the last two letters so that it reads תשד״ם. He told me that it had been done in earlier years when the spelling out of the year might portend something bad for the Jewish people. What other years was the spelling of the Hebrew calendar year altered for this purpose?

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תשד״ם or תשד״מ? In some systems, ם is 600 – Charles Koppelman Sep 17 '13 at 20:57
It's not just years of course. See the simonim in O Ch Hilchos Shabbos: instead of רעה it has ערה and instead of רעב it has ערב – Avrohom Yitzchok Sep 17 '13 at 21:01
possible dupe judaism.stackexchange.com/q/14079/759 – Double AA Sep 17 '13 at 21:05
@AvrohomYitzchok In some editions, yes. – Double AA Sep 17 '13 at 21:06
On a related note, see the W3C's old recommendation for CSS3 Hebrew ordered lists: w3.org/TR/2002/WD-css3-lists-20021107/#hebrew – Charles Koppelman Sep 17 '13 at 21:41
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sometimes the name changes because it spells a "bad" idea, but sometimes it's done because the other one is just nicer.

  • 1910 - תר"ע became עת"ר (from Ra - bad)
  • 1912 - תרע"ב became תער"ב (like here) (from Rav - hunger)
  • 1917 - תרע"ז became עזר"ת (like here) (Ezras - help)
  • 1919 - תרע"ט became עטר"ת (like here) (Ateres - crown)
  • 1938 - תרצ"ח became תרח"צ (Tirtzach - kill)
  • 1950 - ה,תש"י became השי"ת (Hashem Yisborech).
  • 1991 - תשנ"א became תנש"א (like here) (Tinose - Rule)

Surprisingly, 1944 stayed תש"ד (like here) (Shin Daled spells Shed - daemon)

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@BruceJames update – Shmuel Brin Oct 10 '13 at 19:27
תנשא means rule? I think the focus there is on avoiding תשנא hate. And even if שד means demon, תשד doesn't. – Double AA Oct 10 '13 at 19:30
@DoubleAA maybe. – Shmuel Brin Oct 10 '13 at 20:51
I think it must have been 1938 that my Rav was referring to. It is so appropriate that "kill" and that year be associated. – Bruce James Oct 10 '13 at 21:18
Any evidence that these changes would be made when the leading character was other than ת? Are any/all of these standard outside Chabad? – sq33G Dec 10 '13 at 10:32

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