For those who are careful not to say "G-d" in their casual conversation, would reading the name "G-d" aloud from a piece of non-religious text that one was asked to read aloud be a violation of this minhag? (or of this interpretation of Shem shamayim l'vatalah?)

Assume the content of the text is not otherwise special in any way (i.e., not idol worship nor a curse nor foreign praise of G-d that would be inadvisable for other reasons).


  • Would it be different if one were, say, declaiming "My G-d, she hangs upon the cheek of night" in a Shakespeare production, or perhaps singing "G-d bless America," than if one were reading a sample sentence including "G-d" in an explanation of English grammar?

  • What should one say instead?

Surprisingly, this situation is encountered a lot.

  • For those who are careful not to say "God" in their conversation, which is against the Shulchan Arukh and according to some a gentile practice, then i assume they can do whatever they want?
    – Aaron
    Aug 10, 2015 at 19:30
  • @Aaron Okay, but there are large numbers of frum people who follow this custom...
    – SAH
    Aug 10, 2015 at 19:49
  • And you can follow a custom, but it is still a stringent custom. If you want to be stringent, then you should be stringent, but asking a question about a personal stricture or a customary stricture requires you to get an answer from either yourself, or your Rabbi that supports this customary stringency. But since this question has the largest posekim against the custom, and only more recent posekim in favor, it's hard to give a conclusive answer
    – Aaron
    Aug 10, 2015 at 20:21

1 Answer 1


As not saying God or writing God are newly formed ideas that many consider to be from gentile sources, it should be considered a personal stringincy, and therefore the person who was taken on this additional stringincy should do what they feel is best. If they want to know what the majority of halakhists say regarding this manner, see the following:

We follow here the ruling of the Siftei Kohen, the great 17th-century commentator to the Shulchan Arukh: "The Name of God in Hebrew is properly considered a holy name. The Name of God written in any other language, however, is not a 'holy name' at all. You will understand this when you consider that it is permissible to erase a Name written in some other language, such as the word Gott in Yiddish or German" (to Yoreh De'ah 179, no. 11). For this reason, Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik used to say that "those who write the English word God in the form G-d do so out of 'total ignorance' (am-ha'aratzut gemurah)... since the English word God is not one of the formal Divine Names but merely a literary device that refers to the Holy One, Blessed be He"; R. Zvi Schachter, Nefesh Harav (Jerusalem: Reshit Yerushalayim, 1994), 161. True, there are authorities who dispute the Siftei Kohen (see R. Avraham Danzig, Chokhmat Adam 89:9) and who support the custom of writing the Divine Name as G-d (see R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, 20th-century Lithuania, Resp. Achi`ezer 3:32). We, however, following Maimonides and the other scholars we have mentioned, regard that custom as an unnecessary stringency.

Source: https://ccarnet.org/responsa/rr21-no-5762-1/

Although the information is from Orthodox sources, the website is reform which apparently is problematic. Here are some other sources:

A. Opinion of the Mishnah Berurah. The Mishnah Berurah (85:10) rules that there are no limitations placed on the writing of God’s name in languages other than Hebrew. Indeed, this lenient view is strongly supported by the p’sak of the Shach (Yoreh Deah 179:11) and Achiezer (3:32). Furthermore, a paper that says “God” may be thrown away in the normal fashion. However, the Mishnah Berurah writes that the word “God” should not be uttered in the bathroom or other areas that are unclean and mentioning the word “God” may be a violation of saying God’s name in vain.

The Mishnah brerurah starts the trend of being more stringent on the name being spoken of in vain. However, it is mostly limited to bathrooms, and it "may" be saying God's name in vain.

B. Opinion of Rav Chaim Ozer Grozinski and Rav Akiva Eiger. Not only may the printed word “God” be written and thrown away normally, but the recital of the word “God” does not pose any halachic problem. After all, the status of the written word should be no different than the status of the spoken word.

However, if you really want to be stringent in the matter of not saying God's name, then maybe you should follow the talmudic dictum?

Shalom. The gemara (Shabbat 10b) rules that one may not greet his friend with the word “Shalom” in the bathhouse because “Shalom” is one of the names of God. Tosafot (Sota 10a) rules that for this reason one may not erase the word “Shalom”. Although God is also called a “Chanun V’rachum” all agree that these words may be erased because they are descriptions of God rather than the formal name of God. Rosh (Teshuvot Harash 3:15) disagrees with Tosafot and maintains that one may erase the name “Shalom” just as one may erase “Chanun V’rachum”. A. Writing Shalom. 1. The stringent approach. Rama (Yoreh Deah 276) cites those who are careful not to write the entire word “Shalom”, and instead merely omit the letter “mem” when writing “Shalom” in Hebrew.


For sources from the Talmud i couldn't find them directly translated into English so here is a paraphrased from the Jewish Encyclopedia

Talmud (Shev. 35a) lay it down that it is forbidden to erase the name of God from a written document, and since any paper upon which that name appears might be discarded and thus "erased," it is forbidden to write the name explicitly. The Talmud gives an interesting historical note with regard to one aspect of this. Among the decrees of the Syrians during the persecutions of *Antiochus Epiphanes was one forbidding the mention of the name of God. When the *Hasmoneans gained the victory they not only naturally repealed the decree, but demonstratively ordained that the divine name be entered even in monetary bonds, the opening formula being "In such and such a year of Johanan, high priest to the Most High God." The rabbis, however, forbade this practice since "tomorrow a man will pay his debt and the bond (with the name of God) will be discarded on a dunghill" the day of the prohibition was actually made an annual festival (RH 18b). It is, however, specifically stated that this prohibition refers only to seven biblical names of God. They are ʾEl, ʾElohim (also with suffixes), "I am that I am" (Ex. 3:14), ʾAdonai, the Tetragrammaton, Shaddai, and Ẓeva'ot (R. Yose disagrees with this last, Shev. 35a–b). The passage states explicitly that all other names and descriptions of God by attributes may be written freely. Despite this, it became the accepted custom among Orthodox Jews to use variations of most of those names in speech, particularly ʾElokim for ʾElohim, and Ha-Shem ("the Name" and, for reasons of assonance, ʾAdoshem) for Adonai. The adoption of Ha-Shem is probably due to a misunderstanding of a passage in the liturgy of the Day of Atonement, the Avodah. It includes the formula of the confession of the high priest on that day. Since on that occasion he uttered the Ineffable Name, the text has "Oh, Ha-Shem, I have sinned," etc. The meaning is probably "O [here he mentioned the Ineffable Name] I have sinned," and from this developed the custom of using Ha-Shem for ʾAdonai, which is in itself a substitute for the Tetragrammaton (see also Allon, Mehkarim, 1 (1957), 194ff.; S. Lieberman, Tosefta ki-Feshutah (Mo ʾed), 4 (1962), 755). *Shabbetai b. Meir ha-Kohen (first half 17th century) states emphatically that the prohibition of erasure of the divine name applies only to the names in Hebrew but not the vernacular (Siftei Kohen to Sh. Ar., YD 179:8; cf. Pitḥei Teshuvah to YD 276:9), and this is repeated as late as the 19th century by R. Akiva Eger (novellae, ad loc.). Jehiel Michael Epstein, however, in his Arukh ha-Shulhan (ḤM 27:3) inveighs vehemently against the practice of writing the Divine Name even in vernacular in correspondence, calling it an "exceedingly grave offense." As a result the custom has become widespread among extremely particular Jews not to write the word God or any other name of God, even in the vernacular, in full.

Source: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/11305-names-of-god

  • That's from a Reform website. Why am I going to suppose it's what the "majority of halakhists" say?
    – SAH
    Aug 10, 2015 at 19:50
  • Because the Rambam, the Shulchan Arukh by Yosef Caro, Rav Soloveitchik, Siftei Kohen, and Rav Shachter are not reform Rabbis. If the biggest names in Halakhic codification are all in agreement, then it's not incorrect to say "the majority of halakhists." The fact that the reform and conservative movement are the ones who bring this information forward isn't a slight against them, it's a tragedy of ignorance in the current Orthodox movement.
    – Aaron
    Aug 10, 2015 at 19:58
  • Where did you get Rambam?
    – SAH
    Aug 10, 2015 at 22:59
  • Rambam's Nedarim 12:11 sounds like otherwise.
    – SAH
    Aug 10, 2015 at 23:04
  • 1
    @SAH i found more information for you. While the Rambam might not have written something more specific on the topic of writing the name of God in other languages, we have copies of his book in which he would write Allah, the Arabic word for God, in Hebrew characters, which is אללה please feel free to search one of his works here, just enter אללה into the search box. intellectualencounters.org/KotarApp/…
    – Aaron
    Aug 17, 2015 at 22:52

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