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Some prayers can be said in any language, and many people use the English translation in siddurim to daven directly, the question is is one allowed to mix in both hebrew and English when first learning, for example to say "boruch ata adonoi eloheinu melech haolam, who has made us holy with his commandments and commanded us regarding the washing of the hands"?

and other similar brochos, to start out in hebrew [if one understands only the beginning] then continue or conclude in English, regarding the parts one doesn't understand?

Same goes for verses, for example "adonai has ruled for all eternity"? can one say the hebrew names of G-d in the middle of praying in english, or does one have to say "lord", "G-d", etc.?

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  • Great question. From the Igros Moshe Aruch Chaim 4, 70:4, it seems like it has to be either all English or all Lashon Hakodesh. However he doesn't explicitly mention this case
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 10 at 19:06
  • @Chatzkel interesting, I would be interested to know how this would work [all english] with the names of Hashem, which each have a specific kavana etc., or words like "boruch" which are pretty hard to translate etc.
    – Yaynkileh
    Aug 10 at 22:14
  • I believe that's why lashon hakodesh is preferred, because of the letters and words have special meaning. But if your doing English then why would those be different
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 10 at 23:32
  • I checked the Artscroll siddur. On the first page in bold letters they write that in accordance with most poskim, when saying Hashem name, you should say either G-D, Lord, or Adonai, not Hashem which is what's actually written on the English side. So it seems that for Hashem name you can say it in Lashon hakodesh
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 11 at 0:33
  • @Chatzkel but can one say "Elo-heem" "Elo-haynu" etc.? or only Adonai? and what about the word "boruch"?
    – Yaynkileh
    Aug 11 at 2:10
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The Rambam in Hilchos Tefilla 1:4 says:

כֵּיוָן שֶׁגָּלוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּימֵי נְבוּכַדְנֶצַּר הָרָשָׁע נִתְעָרְבוּ בְּפָרַס וְיָוָן וּשְׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת וְנוֹלְדוּ לָהֶם בָּנִים בְּאַרְצוֹת הַגּוֹיִם וְאוֹתָן הַבָּנִים נִתְבַּלְבְּלוּ שְׂפָתָם וְהָיְתָה שְׂפַת כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מְעֹרֶבֶת מִלְּשׁוֹנוֹת הַרְבֵּה וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהָיָה מְדַבֵּר אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְדַבֵּר כָּל צָרְכּוֹ בְּלָשׁוֹן אַחַת אֶלָּא בְּשִׁבּוּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (נחמיה יג כד) ״וּבְנֵיהֶם חֲצִי מְדַבֵּר אַשְׁדּוֹדִית״ וְגוֹ׳‎ (נחמיה יג כד) ״וְאֵינָם מַכִּירִים לְדַבֵּר יְהוּדִית וְכִלְשׁוֹן עַם וְעַם״. וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה כְּשֶׁהָיָה אֶחָד מֵהֶן מִתְפַּלֵּל תִּקְצַר לְשׁוֹנוֹ לִשְׁאל חֲפָצָיו אוֹ לְהַגִּיד שֶׁבַח הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ עַד שֶׁיֵּעָרְבוּ עִמָּהּ לְשׁוֹנוֹת אֲחֵרוֹת. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁרָאָה עֶזְרָא וּבֵית דִּינוֹ כָּךְ עָמְדוּ וְתִקְּנוּ לָהֶם שְׁמוֹנֶה עֶשְׂרֵה בְּרָכוֹת עַל הַסֵּדֶר

When the people of Israel went into exile in the days of the wicked Nebucednezzar, they mingled with the Persians, Greeks and other nations. In those foreign countries, children were born to them, whose language was confused. Everyone's speech was a mixture of many tongues. No one was able, when he spoke, to express his thoughts adequately in any one language, otherwise than incoherently, as it is said, "And their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod and they could not speak in the Jews' language, but according to the language of each people" (Nehemiah 13:24). Consequently, when anyone of them prayed in Hebrew, he was unable adequately to express his needs or recount the praises of God, without mixing Hebrew with other languages. When Ezra and his Council realized this condition, they ordained the Eighteen Benedictions in their present order.

The Einayim L'Mishpat in Brachos 40b understands from this Rambam that any mixing of languages is not allowed during prayers or blessings

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  • but using only that language is OK? what about a word that has meaning both in english and hebrew, like "raid", could mean "descend" in hebrew or a group of people descending on their enemies? what about a name, like "yaakov", does one have to say "and he established it for Jacob as a decree" in davening, or is one allowed to say "Yaakov"? If one is allowed to say "Yaakov" instead of "Jacob" since its only a name, then what about the names of G-d? Is one allowed to say ad-nay, Elo-heem etc.? If not what's the difference between that and Yaakov and Jacob? is this only shmoneh esray or all parts
    – Yaynkileh
    Aug 19 at 21:35
  • A name can't really be translated. Although it might have a meaning, when you say the name your referencing the person or place not the meaning. So Yackov is Yackov in all languages, you don't need to know any meaning (he held onto the ankle when he was born etc.). Hashem name is different obviously, as mentioned in previous comments, Artscroll seems to have different ways for different Names. Raid has different meanings so saying it in the wrong context obviously wouldn't work. Im not a rabbi, just my thoughts
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 19 at 21:41
  • "Hashem name is different obviously" why is it different? why is that obvious? " as mentioned in previous comments, Artscroll seems to have different ways for different Names." Im not talking about artscroll, Im talking about the primary sources of halacha
    – Yaynkileh
    Aug 19 at 21:42
  • As for using only English, that's a huge debate dating back a few hundred years. The Chasam Sofer was strongly opposed when the question arose at the onset of Haskalah
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 19 at 21:42
  • well obviously some people approve of only english as people who dont know hebrew pray in english, the question is only for them who are anyways doing it only in english can they use the hebrew names? and the rambam source seems to imply only for shmoneh esray, but what about for the earlier prayers like hodu etc which is only pesukim, or what about blessings over food
    – Yaynkileh
    Aug 19 at 21:43
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B"H

I asked the OU and they said I can use hashem's hebrew names, here's a copy of the email text [earlier message at bottom]:

The request (#90439) has been deemed solved.


Jack Abramowitz, Aug 20, 2021, 11:15 EDT

That's fine. In fact, according to some authorities, using God's Hebrew Nam= es even when praying in English would be preferred.

Sincerely yours,

Rabbi Jack Abramowitz OU Torah Content Editor facebook.com/outorah twitter.com/ou_torah


Yaynikel, Aug 19, 2021, 18:51 EDT

Hi if one is only praying in english, can he use the names of Hashem such as A= d-nay, El-heem etc. or does one have to say "lord", "G0d" etc>?

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