The seal of Columbia University has the YKVK (G-d's 4 letter name) on the floor of the library. People walk on the seal. Is this chilul Hashem or is there some other halachic problem with this? Does this problem apply to non-Jews as well as Jews?

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    If a min writes a Sefer Torah it has no kedusha and one has to burn it,however if a non Jew writes one it needs geniza,see the Rambam
    – sam
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 17:27
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    @sam That's assuming there was any Kavana for Shem HaShem. This sounds like it was made by a machine or a worker who had no idea what they were doing.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 17:30
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    So then it shouldn't have kedusha,bur there is a reason why they intentionally used it
    – sam
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 17:36
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    @DoubleAA = So that I correctly undrestand the discussion, does the Kavanah matter at the time the logo was created (considering that Columbia has existed for, I think a few hundred years, I think the designers knew what the YKVH meant. Although, granted, they may not have known "halacha",) or the Kavanah when the logo was drawn on the floor? I assume that whoever painted the logo gave no thought to the word at the top of the logo.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 18:02
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    Don't know the validity of the site, but apparently Hebrew is used in more symbols/emblems than you might think. jewishpathways.com/jewish-history/jews-and-founding-america
    – JJLL
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 0:04

2 Answers 2


The Chavos Yair Siman 16 at the end of the tshuva writes that the coins from Sweden which had the Shem HaShem on it are not considered kodesh since it was made for mundane purposes and the *Mishna Brurah 334:52 quotes this opinion concerning melting down the coin(erasing the name). It seems that the name on the seal has no kedusha just the fact its on the floor it was made for mundane purposes just like a coin(even less than a coin,since coins are minted sometimes for special occasions). I got this idea from the amazing Sefer Minchas Asher chelek 2 siman 55 which quotes these opinions,the case he discusses is a case where they found the Shem in a childrens school bathroom . If one has the sefer he goes more in depth in to this topic and its applications.

*text of Mishna Brurah - נב) עם האזכרות - שכיון שהם אדוקים בודאי כתבו אותן לשם ע"ג ומכאן יש להזהיר על אותן מטבעות של זהב וכסף שטבעו אותן האדוקין לשם ע"ג שאסורים לתלותם על הס"ת וגם אין להחזיק אותם ברשותו אלא יתיכם מיד כדי שלא יהיה שום זכרון למעשיהם [ב"ח וט"ז] והרב מו"ה יהודא מילר נסתפק אי מותר להתיכן שמא אינם מינים לע"ג ובתשובת חות יאיר סימן שט"ז מתיר להתיך המטבעות של שם בן ד' שנעשים במדינות שוויידן מטעם כי נטבעו להוציאם והו"ל כאלו נכתבו בפירוש לשם חול וכן משמע בפמ"ג ע"ש. עוד כתב מה שנוהגין באיזה קהלות כשמברכין חולה וגובין מעות מכל אחד ומניחין הכלי עם המעות לתוך ארון הקודש לא יפה עושין ע"ש ובלא"ה אסור להשים לתוך ארון הקודש דבר של חול ע"כ יש למנוע המנהג:

This is not for psak ,just my extrapolation which I think makes sense,but I am not a posek.

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    here you can see the sample of coins with the Shem and one from Sweden on bottom - onegshabbat.blogspot.com/2012/08/blog-post_13.html
    – sam
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 3:01
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    (Warning to anyone looking for the picture of the coin; it's a blog, so the picture may not always be found directly on the linked page.... here is a direct link to the picture)
    – MTL
    Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 3:12

My father, who works at Columbia received a psak that the University branded calendars and such require geniza because of the logo on the cover. Presumably this would imply it is forbidden to walk on the Name on the library floor.

Source: Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser

PS I've now identified myself to anyone who knows me already.

  • I don't know you already, and the only inferrence is that your father went to Columbia. So, you're "safe" ... for now... It would be great if you can link a source to Rav Goldwasser's comment. In particular, I'd like to get a sense of R. Goldwasser's analysis (if there is any) regarding non-Jews trampling on the logo, as I believe that B'nai Noach are forbidden to desecrate G-d's name.
    – DanF
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 16:59
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    I'll ask him if I remember the next time I see him.
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 17:20
  • Any chance you can provide a link to the source or if not online, tell me how I might find this?
    – DanF
    Commented May 25, 2017 at 21:31
  • It was by oral communication when I was a kid, so I'm not sure.
    – Yitzchak
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 14:55

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