Based on a previous post that the pronunciation of YHWH as a subject is not disrespectful to be asked here, I hereby ask these:

1.) Are the pronunciation of "Yahweh" and "Yehowah" to be considered as not offensive by us, Jews, because both of these are "invented" (as someone put it) or can not be accurate or only "best guess"?

2.) As a Jew, would I violate the prohibition to pronounce the name of YHWH, by saying "Yahweh" and/or "Yehowah"? (Normally, I simply say "HASHEM" or "Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey" inside or outside a Synagogue, when I come across YHWH in writing.)

3.) Does the prohibition of pronouncing YHWH apply even if the pronunciation is wrong? Any and all answers (from an authoritative source) can be in relation or not in relation to the saying of a bracha.

  • For sure it would not be proper or correct to say Yahweh when reciting a bracha. – ezra Aug 15 '17 at 19:53
  • Doesn't the prohibition of pronouncing the Shem HaMeforash apply even if the pronunciation is wrong? – ezra Aug 15 '17 at 19:55
  • @ezra Thanks for your input. You pointed out "Yahweh" but not "Yehowah". Did you mean either one, in your opinion, would not be proper to say "when reciting bracha"? Would it be not improper to say either one, outside of a bracha? – ninamag Aug 15 '17 at 20:17
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    This very recent question : judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/84749/… is surely related if not a dup? – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 15 '17 at 20:40
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    @AvrohomYitzchok One can see these two questions as related but they are not duplicate. The difference between these two questions is that this "very recent question" asks, in part, 'Does the [[prohibition of]] pronunciation of "the name [of God] with its letters, yod, hay vav, hay" refer ... to any pronunciation-permutation of "yod, hay vav, hay"?' Whereas the question on this page asks, in part, does 'the pronunciation of "Yahweh" and "Yehowah" ' allowed to graze the lips of a Jew or a Non-Jew? – ninamag Aug 15 '17 at 20:55

Rabbi Ari Enkin wrote a couple of articles about this explaining why pronouncing these words would not be problematic. In the first, a book review, he writes:

There is also an especially interesting chapter on the various names of God, their meanings and their usages. In one such discussion the author vigorously argues that the word “Jehovah” cannot possibly be a translation of the “Y-H-V-H” and hence there is nothing halachically problematic with referring to the religious group “Jehovah’s Witnesses” when appropriate.

After some less than positive feedback, he wrote a longer essay explaining his position:

Rubin notes that the correct pronunciation of the Y-H-V-H- was lost during the Talmudic period. The name was used as part of the Temple Service during the First Temple period. During the Second Temple period the name was not used as it was feared that the name would be misused or articulated unlawfully. As a result of this disuse of the Y-H-V-H the correct pronunciation of The Name was lost.

He quotes from Rabbi Rubin's book:

The first [error] is the attempt to read the Y-H-V-H with the vowels that appear with it in the printed Tanach text. While the vowels are actually the vowels of the word Adon-oi, the Chataf Patach under the Alef of Adon-oi changes to a Shevah under the Yud of Y-H-V-H. The second mistake is that the English readers took the German transliteration of the mistaken reading –Jehovah- and pronounced the letter J as a J. In German the letter J is pronounced as a Y. Thus, the German really reads Yehovah. Nevertheless, whether you pronounce it as the Germans did or as the Americans do, the word Jehovah/Yehovah is total gibberish and has no sanctity whatsoever according to the halacha. Modern scholars introduced an equally erroneous pronunciation, again based on the German, of Yahweh. This word is also gibberish and has no meaning or legal standing. (The How & Why of Jewish Prayer p.531)

Following these two articles, R' Ari Enkin wrote an article offering some challenges and some suggestions as to why one may want to be strict (and say 'J's witnesses', etc.) though no conclusion either way.

Edited In a footnote, R' Ari Enkin wrote, "even if it is indeed God’s name, the Shach (YD 179:11) seems to say that God’s name written in a foreign language has no sanctity"

  • based on your well-research answer, would you say that the answer is "no" to the posted questions number 2 and number 3? – ninamag Aug 22 '17 at 18:45
  • correct - it seems the answers to these questions would be 'no' – Zvi Aug 23 '17 at 11:48
  • in a footnote, R' Ari Enkin wrote, "even if it is indeed God’s name, the Shach (YD 179:11) seems to say that God’s name written in a foreign language has no sanctity", would you kindly put a link here on "Shach (YD 179:11)". – ninamag Aug 24 '17 at 5:59
  • in a footnote, R' Ari Enkin wrote, "Rabbi Avishai David gave his haskama to Rubin’s book as-is", would you kindly put a link here on that haskama. – ninamag Aug 24 '17 at 6:03
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    I haven't seen that haskama. Other link added – Zvi Aug 25 '17 at 15:10

This question is multi-faceted. 1. First off, outside of actual prayer or blessings, only the word "Hashem" or another such nickname may be used, even for other names of the almighty. 2. Next, see RMB"M who writes in the section on the Blessing of the Priests, that only in the Beis Hamikdash, up until a certain point, may the actual letters of the Name be pronounced, otherwise (i.e. nowadays) the name "Adonoi" must be used. 3. As to the question as to the correct pronunciation of the Name itself, I believe that the questioner is correct to assume that it is not an exact science, and as such it must not be used at all.

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    Sources for the ones you did not provide a source. For one that you claimed a source, please put a link here. – ninamag Aug 18 '17 at 14:31

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