Some people are very careful to say Hashem or Elokim when singing a song with one of G-d's names in it so as not to use His name in vain (related question), but I have also been told this is unnecessary since these songs are equivalent to prayer.

  • If you shouldn't pronounce them, why did the authors put them in explicitly?

  • If there's no problem with pronouncing them, then how does repeating the words (for example, in the chorus) affect that? I mean, now that you're saying the words simply to fit in with the melody does that make pronouncing them in vain?

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    +1. Re "repeating the words": you mean Hashem's name? or other words?
    – msh210
    Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 7:39
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    Both. Repeating Hashem's name definitely seems problematic, and changing the words of a verse or stanza which contains His name might also change its status from a prayer/Torah study to just singing. Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 8:02
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    See also judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12928.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 17:14
  • I don't know about the second part of the second question but I know Divre Shalom WeEmet of Harav Toledano writes explicitly to say Hashem's name in song. Commented Oct 20, 2013 at 15:41

4 Answers 4



Rambam (Sh'vuos 12:9) rules that one who uses Hashem's Name in a meaningless oath or a an unwarranted blessing violates the Torah prohibition to use His Name in vain. One who utters His Name without a purpose transgresses the lower level, Torah commandment to fear His Name (ibid.:11).In the latter case, the Rambam instructs one to rectify an improper utterance of the Name by adding words of praise of Hashem.

As the aforementioned Rambam hinted, it is likewise permissible to use Hashem's Name to praise Him, including in Shabbat zemiros and other liturgy. Indeed, some (incl. Rav Sh. Z. Orbach) pronounce the Names normally. (The rhyming in some zemirot indicates that the liturgist also did so.) However, many have the custom to alter the Names (Nefesh HaRav, pg. 160 reports that Rav Soloveitchik did not utter the Names in zemirot). The explanation of this custom is apparently that we are concerned that we will not be in the proper frame of mind (B'tzel Hachuchma IV, 52) or may stop in the middle of a phrase (see Igrot Moshe, ibid.) or otherwise disgrace the Name. [Ed. or overly repeat phrases in singing the Z'mirot.]

In practice, one can choose either to pronounce normally or change Hashem's Names when reading Torah texts, saying informal prayers, or singing zemirot. When studying b'rachot, he must change the Names; when reading a whole pasuk, it is proper to pronounce the Names accurately.


The Sefer Divre Shalom WeEmet on the Minhagim of North Africa writes that one should sing songs with Hashem's name. For the second part of the question, I heard the Baba Sali said not to repeat Hashem's name over and over but only say it once.

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    Following the Baba Sali, does it matter if you repeat the verse, using HaShem's name only the first (or second) time, but not both?
    – Seth J
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 23:04
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    My Rosh Yeshiva also said to only say Hashems name the first time.
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 1:17

I would add, that Rabbi Yisroel Belsky told me that this is actually a debate between the Sefardic and Ashkenazi rabbis (Rishonim, Rif specifically). As such, he instructed his campers (in camp Agudah) that Sefardic boys pronounce the names explicitly, and the Ashkenazi boys pronounce the name explicitly only when singing in the sefardic pronunciation, since then they are covered on both fronts, because as far as ashkenazim are concerned no name as been explicitly pronounced, and as far as sefardim are concerned it is ok to explicitly pronounce the names of the Almighty in song. This was actually practiced.

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    You sure this wasn't a joke?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 18:35
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    @DoubleAA Yes I am sure this was not a joke. In fact, He mentioned that the sefardic songs can be sung by all with Hashem's name pronounced, and I pointed out that Keil is pronounced the same way by Sefardim and Ashkenazim alike, and he agreed that that name must not be explicitly pronounced by the Ashkenazim.
    – Hershy S.
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 2:48

With regards to singing zemiros:

The Avnei Yashfei 3:23:3 writes that it is better to say the name since it is being said in a praise and thanksgiving fashion which the Mishna Brurah 215:19 writes that it is mutar to mention the name. However, he notes that Rav Eliyashiv holds that one should not say the Shem HaShem during zemiros since they were just established by the paytanim. The Avnei Yashfei concludes that he has not been privileged to understand this psak.

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