Is there a religious problem with typing out the name: "G-o-d"?

  • 22
    Your question title seems to presuppose an answer! :)
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 16, 2009 at 16:01

5 Answers 5


I recall having learned in the beginning of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that one may not recite God's name in any language when not needed. I suppose the spelling of G-d is an extension of the same idea to writing.

In general. I have a problem with this approach. It seems to me that the term "god" is no different than "Hashem". In fact spelled with a capital or without - it's a generic reference to the idea of a higher power and not reserved for the Jewish god, whereas Hashem is only used for the Jewish god. Therefore, it would seem to me that the use of Hashem should be more guarded.

To me we have two logical choices:

  1. Yud-kay-vav-kay and related Hebrew spellings are the true names of God and all others are abstracted references and may be used casually.
  2. An abstracted reference such as those used by non-Jews in foreign languages are still akin to the name of God and therefore their usage should be guarded. By the same logic, any reference to God's name will become eventually become synonymous with God's name like Hashem and we have to stop using that too. I suppose every generation could come up with their own reference until it becomes overused and then it's time to change it again.

I don't have a resolution to this dilemma but I personally find approach #1 more consistent with our overall practice.

With regard to its use on blogs etc. I think we have more leeway. I asked a rabbi many years ago regarding a recording to VHS of a program on TV where they recited God's name. I was told I could erase the video tape and that such recordings be it video or audio did not have take on any special status. Basically, that K'tiva (writing) involves ink on paper and not magnetic particles that can only be read by special machines and then interpreted into God's name. In fact, at the time, dot matrix printers were the most popular choice for home use, and I learned that they didn't count either, that since you could see the individual dots (early models) that they didn't count as whole letters. I have re-asked that question more recently, and been told that even though a laser printer is a collection of particles, that goes on dry, and is not ink, it is the equivalent and makes whole letter representations.

In short, if we were to extend the kedusha of representations of God's name to the digital medium then we could not enjoy the benefits of something like the Bar Ilan CD/DVD. Any representation on the CD/DVD gets transferred to your computer's RAM and then you couldn't shutdown the program or turn off your computer. Therefore, logically, we can't bestow any special status to the disc itself either. In the same way, it would seem that however we represent God's name on this blog... unless you're printing it, you don't have to worry.

  • 4
    Sorry, but 'God' is different to 'Hashem'. 'God' is a translation of Hashem's name and therefore a kiuni (nickname). 'Hashem' isn't. See doseofhalacha.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/god-or-g-d.html
    – Zvi
    Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 7:06
  • 1
    I agree. Some people seem to get confused that Hashem is G-d's Name. It is not. It was made up to substitute the Divine Four-Letter Name, and does not need to be shown any particular respect.
    – ezra
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 13:59

The Shach (Yoreh De'ah 179:11) ruled that "God" spelled in a foreign language does NOT have the status of a "shem" and thus may be erased, lehatkhila. For more information, you can read this article: Writing: Why do some people write "G-d" with a hyphen instead of an "o"?.

  • "In the bathhouse as well it is forbidden to speak or think about any sacred matters. It is [further] forbidden to say any of the Names designated for the Holy One, Blessed is He, even in a mundane tongue [i.e, languages other than Hebrew] (such as Gott in German or Boga in Polish and Russian), when in the bathhouse or in filthy streets." - Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 5:14, ArtScroll
    – ezra
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 14:07

I heard from a student of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik z"l that whether a translation of God's name into English or another language, has the status of a shem or not, replacing a letter with another symbol e.g. "G-d" accomplishes nothing, because there are no formal laws about the lettering of English as there are with Hebrew (e.g. regarding the laws of writing a Torah and the like). Rather, the legal significance of letters in English is the ideas that they represent. G-d obviously represents the exact same thing as "God", so nothing has been accomplished.


For k'tiva, I thought there were two basic categories: 1) H's primary names, in Hebrew 2) Kinnuim, i.e. nicknames, like "Shalom" in Hebrew, or "God" in English. Since G-d would seem to have the same level of nicknamedness as God, there shouldn't be a halakhic difference in actual writing. Perhaps G-d would be more appropriate in typing, where it sounds like all is permitted anyways, but still serves as an allusion to the halakhot of writing, a practice that may be forgotten to the future generations, like grafting and treating skins on Shabbat.


The prohibition of erasing divine names is derived from the juxtaposition of "...we'avadtem eth shemam..." ("and destroy their names...") and "Lo ta'asun kein la'hashem..." ("Do not do likewise to the L-rd..."). In general, it’s forbidden to erase even one letter of any of the 7 divine names : שם הויה, אדנות, א-ל, א-לוה, אל-הים, ש-די, צב-אות (the Tetragrammaton, Adonai, Elohah, El, Elohim, Shaddai, Tzva'oth; S”A Y”D 276:9; see Halachipedia).

However, since we do not generally treat electronic representations of G-d's names or of torah to have the same halachik status as written/printed*, the issue would primarily be if there is a concern that the text could eventually be printed out by a reader. The Talmud equates writers (and, presumably, publishers) of blessings to those who burn torah scrolls because of the possibility that the writing will eventually be burnt.

Nonetheless, with regard to divine names in languages other than Hebrew, it is controversial if divine names in English, such as G-d, may be erased. (see Shach Y.D. 276:11, Pith'hei Teshuva 11, 19, Mishnah Berurah O.C. 85:10, Aruch Ha'shulchan Y.D. 276:24, C.M. 27:3, Ginzei Hakodesh 7:footnote 24), the Mishna Brurah 85:10 rules leniently that the name itself does not require geniza (burial) and can be thrown away (though divrei torah (words of torah), whether or not G-d's name is mentioned, do regardless require geniza [S”A 154:5]).

*See, however, Shu”t Y'chava Da'ath 4:50 and Shu”t Igroth Moshe 1:173 who, according to halachipedia, are lenient because the electronic encryption is illegible, but nonetheless say that it’s preferable to be strict.

  • "Nonetheless, with regard to divine names in languages other than Hebrew..." raises a question. When I word in one language (other than Hebrew) refers to G-d, but in English does NOT refer to G-d. For example, the ad campaign of several years ago, "Got Milk?" to an English speaker has nothing to do with G-d, but to a person fluent in German, "Got" is German for G-d?
    – Dennis
    Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 19:09
  • @Dennis Even Hebrew words that are often a divine name have no sanctity when used in other contexts, such as tzvaos when meaning "legions", elohim when meaning alternatively "judges", "angels", or "false gods", or, depending on vowelization, adonai when meaning "my masters".
    – Loewian
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 1:49

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