There's a famous Taz (quoted in Kitzur 6:3) which says that one isn't allowed to say the name of Hashem in foreign languages (So saying/writing B-ga or G-d in vain would be forbidden).

Why would Hashem or Rachamana (in the time of the Gemara) stay permitted? The classical answer is that it's not a name but a reference (When blogging/emailing/etc., do I use "God" or "G-d"?).

Practically, the word Hashem/Rachamana colloquially refers only to "Hashem" so why is it permitted to be pronounces/written?

  • 2
    Aren't all names just references? Rigid designators and all that stuff...
    – Double AA
    Oct 26, 2014 at 5:22
  • Where is the Ta"z from your first link?
    – WAF
    Aug 16, 2016 at 16:10
  • Just because he says one isn't allowed to say Hashem's name in foreign languages, doesn't mean he holds you cant write it either. FWIW the Mishnah Berurah (85:10) holds it may not be said in dirty places, but may be erased.
    – user9643
    Jun 2, 2017 at 16:15

1 Answer 1


Hashem doesn't refer only to God, it's used in Hebrew in the literal sense, meaning the name. "האם רשמת את השם שלך?" - Haim rashamt et hashem shelach? - did you wrote your name?

The comments makes me understand I was too brief, so I'll add a clarification:
In addition to God, it is forbidden to call parents by their name. Likewise, because of Kvod Malchut, it is forbidden to call a king by his name. These restrictions are not limited to calling them, it is also forbidden to reference them by their name. Instead, we call them in referencing terms with general meaning - mod, dad, the king. When used, all those terms refers to specific identity - the speaker's father or mother, the king who's identity is understood by the context. But while the reference in any specific use (speech act) refers to a specific identity, the meaning of the term is general.
Sometimes a term may change a meaning, like the term אל, El, which initially meant any god and so saying it was fine. Nowadays, the referencing of other gods is done almost exclusively by the term אליל and so it became forbidden to say אל when referring to God.

Regarding rachmana, I'm not sure. The word does literally mean something different in Aramic and I guess it was used in the past in the literal sense but it isn't anymore. I don't see it used to refer to God either, except within prayers.

  • 1
    The word "אל" also has two meaning in Hebrew - one for God, one meaning "to".
    – Scimonster
    Oct 26, 2014 at 13:00
  • The word אל have two different meanings. But Hashem doesn't mean something different, it refers to God's name. Similarly, rachmana doesn't mean something different when referring to God.
    – Dave's tux
    Oct 26, 2014 at 13:02
  • Sure it does, that's exactly what your answer says - it refers to God, as well as simply meaning "the name".
    – Scimonster
    Oct 26, 2014 at 13:03
  • It refers to God, but it means the name. Reference and meaning are not the same thing.
    – Dave's tux
    Oct 26, 2014 at 13:06
  • 2
    What is a word's meaning if not its referent?
    – Double AA
    Oct 26, 2014 at 16:58

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