What does it mean to take God's name in vain? From the Jewish perspective. I struggle with the worldly interpretation and my own.
The 3rd commandment is not to take a pointless oath in G-d's name (e.g. swearing that a table is a table, and other pointless oaths, see ch 1) as is codified by Rambam (Hilchos Shvuos) and Sefer HaChinuch(30). By swearing pointlessly invoking the name of G-d, one trivializes G-d's significance as the singular force in the Universe.
Rambam (Hilchos Berachos 1:15) based on Berachos (33a) adds that making a unneeded bracha is also "like" swearing falsely but it is the subject of much debate(see Frankel Rambam sefer haMafteach for 25+ references) if he means min hatorah or miderabanan. Not saying G-ds name without affording it due respect is a lack of "Fearing G-d" (Rambam Hilchos Shvuos 12:11) -- but it is by no means (even according to Rambam) the core definition of the 3rd commandment.
Jews understand the 3rd commandment to mean: refrain from mentioning Gcd's name in vain.
The only time Jews actually pronounce Gcd's names are:
- When praying
- When making an oath in a Jewish court of law (Bet Din)
- When reading entire verses from the Bible
- When teaching children how to pray
Even writing out Gcd's name is problematic, according to some opinions.
All other times, Jews use a nickname instead of using one of His names. Typically this is "HaShem" (which means "The Name").