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What are the halachot for programming shemot hakodesh?

Must special care or actions be taken in a codebase which handles the names of HaShem?

Does a program written to generate shemot need to be written a certain way? Does the programmer need to behave a certain way? Does the programmer need to be tahor? In any sense does the code or the machine it's running on need to be tahor? I am not wondering about the output of the program.

Id est: If a program written in javascript generates a web page which could be printed out, I am not wondering how that "page" should be handled on the end user's screen or once printed out— unless it pertains. I am wondering how the code should be written and how the programmer should behave.

There is a little overlap I guess in how shemot are sent over the wire.

  • would it be any different for how a printer in a publishing house would have to behave? – rosends Nov 13 at 16:45
  • I don't know, that's why I'm asking @rosends – Kinnard Hockenhull Nov 13 at 16:50
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  • @Salmononius2 that seems distinct to me; it's related but distinct. I tried to make that explicit. Perhaps the mods will disagree with me – Kinnard Hockenhull Nov 13 at 18:13
  • I understand the question as follows: to code shemot that cannot be printed is not a problem, but if this code will lead persons to print shemot and destroy them, is it needed to write them with shinui. Right? – kouty Nov 13 at 19:38
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All Halochos of Holy names (Yesodey Hatora 6.1) apply exclusively to physical writing on any physical media, such as writing in ink on a paper, chiseling in stone or carving in wood.

This does not apply to cases where the name is made of pixels and combined into letters by our brain, like reading off the screen or making letters with Lego bricks or printed by dot printer.

(This would also apply to any ink printer but many Rabbies prohibit as it looks real, although this is not a way of writing.)

This also does not apply to digital coding saved in bits and bytes (100101110010).


Source: I asked this question R' Shlezinger and he wrote it in his Shu"T Birkas Reuven Shlomo somewhere.

  • So could you bring your phone with a siddur app open and displaying into a bathroom? – Daniel Nov 13 at 21:10
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    @Daniel I often stress the difference between חפצא and גברא. THere's nothing in חפצא (essence) of the phone that makes it sacred. Just like displaying a picture of the Temple or Rambam. However, you [might] feel embarrassed in גברא (you) because you do something that might be interpreted as desecration and therefore prohibited. Many many things are prohibited this way - they even killed one man that rode a horse on Shabbos - there's nothing criminal in this act, but the man (גברא) was too careless and maybe heretic. – Al Berko Nov 14 at 18:08
  • What if there's actuation of some sort, perhaps a loud-speaker, and the names are 'pronounced'? – Kinnard Hockenhull Nov 21 at 17:50
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    Again, those are your feelings, so it might be forbidden because "it looks/sounds like" but nit because there's anything bad in it. This is a very important distinction to make - is a thing forbidden "on its own", "by its essence/nature" or because people might misuse it. – Al Berko Nov 21 at 20:56
  • I think I see. Now I'm wondering about quantum media . . . – Kinnard Hockenhull Nov 22 at 3:16

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