I was told that in the sequence of numerals with Hebrew letters, the numbers 15 and 16 are rendered with טו and טז instead of יה and יו to prevent the tetragrammaton from being formed irreverently.

I'm not sure how this is possible: יו is not a substring of the tetragrammaton, and יה would have to be connected somehow with a וה, but וה isn't used numerically.

What am I missing?

  • I would add that this rule seems to be applied inconsistently as 31 is usually written aleph lamed.
    – alef lamed
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 21:17
  • 11
    Thirty one is never written as aleph-lamed...
    – jake
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 21:56
  • It is not unheard-of to see י then ו as a numeral in older s'farim. Example: The Shu"t Mahara"m Shik, when the year is (5)616, uses תרי"ו.
    – WAF
    Commented May 3, 2012 at 0:37
  • hilariously related: w3.org/TR/2002/WD-css3-lists-20021107/#hebrew (NOTE: this is an old version of the spec) Commented Dec 10, 2014 at 22:31

2 Answers 2


י and ה by themselves do form a Divine name, used in several places in the Bible (e.g., Ex. 17:16). All of the laws about not erasing a name of G-d apply to it as well (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 276:10).

As for י and ו, we do find those used as a representation of G-d's name in personal names like יוחנן (Yochanan/Johanan, "G-d is kind") and יוכבד (Yocheved/Jochebed, "G-d's honor"). True that there is no law (that I know of) against erasing this combination, but I guess people still considered it too close for comfort.

The point, in any case, is not so much that the numbers 15 and 16 might be used irreverently (they're numbers like any other), but that a piece of paper bearing these numbers, written as Divine names or something similar to them, might be thrown into the garbage or otherwise treated disrespectfully.

  • Is it just minhag to maintain the tradition in sefarim which are most certainly shaimos? Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 7:10
  • 1
    @TKKocheran: probably. Then, too, it would be confusing to write these numbers one way in print and a different way in ephemera.
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 17:02
  • 7
    If you intend to write יה as a number, why would it have any more kedusha than writing אלהים when referring to idols (or judges)?
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 7, 2013 at 8:28
  1. It's 15 and 16. Not 14 which is יד.
  2. יה does represent one of god's name. It can be without the וה ending.
  3. I don't know about יו

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .