The gemara in Shabbos 115b cites a Tosefta seemingly condemning those who publish prayer-books (and amulets) with G-d's name: "...מכאן אמרו כותבי ברכות כשורפי תורה". Nonetheless, it is common practice today of virtually all prayer-book publishers to include G-d's names in their products. Is there a halachik justification for this seemingly unnecessary leniency?

(While not necessarily addressing all the potential halachik issues, many older siddurim often employed e.g. the use of "יי" in place of the Tetragrammaton and used a character that combined the א and ל for other divine names. [My understanding is that the other names were printed as is.] Even this practice seems to have been abandoned by modern publishers of prayer-books.)

An additional potential issue of e.g. printing the Tetragrammaton as written instead of as pronounced is the possibility that those unaware of the rule about pronouncing that name are likely to be misled into violating that halacha. Is there any basis for this potential "michshol" as well? (This leniency was even introduced into the recently published children's picture-siddur of Koren publishing.)

  • Possible answer: In those days books were written by hand. Tosfos has to be referring to someone who writes by hand the name of Hashem, as opposed to today where we use a printing presses.
    – larry909
    Jul 22, 2019 at 9:08

1 Answer 1


The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 334:12) says:

כל כתבי הקודש מצילין האידנא מפני הדליקה קורין בהם אפי' כתובים בכל לשון אפי' כתובים בסם ובסיקרא (פירוש מיני צבעים) ובכל דבר וכן מטבע ברכות שטבעו חכמים מצילים אותם מן הדליקה...

In these days, all holy scriptures are saved from a fire and read from [publicly], even if they are written in any language and even if they are written with dye or red paint (meaning types of paint) or anything else. Similarly, a set of blessings that the Sages established [i.e., a siddur] should be saved from a fire...

(Sefaria's translation, my emphasis)

The Mishna Berura explains (seif katan 33)

וכן מטבע ברכות: שכל זה הותר לכתוב בזמנינו ולברך ולהתפלל בם משום עת לעשות לה' וע"כ ממילא צריך להצילם מן הדליקה וגם טעונים גניזה בחול שלא יהיו מונחים במקום הפקר

Similarly a set of blessings: For all of this was allowed to be written in our times and to bless and pray from them because of 'a time to do for HaShem and therefore one must save them from a fire, and they need burial on weekdays so that they will not be left in an abandoned place

Meaning, because siddurs were allowed to be written, they now need to be saved from a fire. Since the reason to not write siddurim no longer applies, and they'll be saved anyway, having HaShems name written out is no longer considered "as if he is a burner of the Torah", and it would be allowed.

In regards to Lifnei Iver, it's possible that the first printers who printed in such a way we're Over the Aveira. However, subsequent printers wouldn't be, because Lifnei Iver is only if the one doing the sin wouldn't have been able to do it without the 'help' of the other, IIRC. However, it would still be מסייע לידי עובר עבירה.

Additionally, presumably almost anyone who we might worry won't know how to pronounce HaShems name (i.e. YKVK) are k'tanim, and probably even below / just barely chinuch age, in which case there might not be a worry of Lifnei Iver or מסייע לידי עובר עבירה to begin with.

  • I'm not sure I understood the question correctly, or maybe I didn't fully understand the gemara, because from what I saw in the gemara, there was no hava Amina to write a siddur without HaShems name. In fact later it says that a certain amount of psukkim (even without HaShems name) is problematic, which definitely appears in siddurim. So I don't know that not printing HaShems name would solve anything. But I answered based on the OP's assumptions
    – Lo ani
    Nov 16, 2023 at 1:10
  • (The answer holds true either way, I just wanted to clarify)
    – Lo ani
    Nov 16, 2023 at 1:14

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