Would you have fulfilled your obligation to recite a blessing if you pronounced the Name of G-d in a way that was against your custom? For example, if an Ashkenazi has the custom to say "Adonoy" and he instead says "Adonai" like (some) Sephardim, has he fulfilled his obligation?

Similarly, if he were singing a song, and he used "Adonai" instead of "Adonoy", would he be liable for using the Name in vain, G-d forbid?

This question is not limited to the two pronunciations I provided. The same question could be asked with Adoinoy, Adeinoy, Adhounoy, Adaunoy, Adhonai, etc.

  • A word is a significant object. This is a way to the significated object. There are not two men they exactly pronounce in the same way. Despite that we can understand one the other. If we can understand, there's no problems. Words are not somewhat else. Shem hashem is a word.
    – kouty
    Apr 17, 2018 at 5:47
  • 3
    I don't know why you assert that this would constitute using the Name in vain. Apr 17, 2018 at 6:07
  • Interesting question. My feeling is that it makes no difference. IIRC, one of my friends and I went to a Vishnitz shtiebl, and the gabbai asked my friend to daven and instructed him to pronounce Hebrew words the way Vishnitzer pronounce it so that the congregation could understand it, and I guess because the gabbai didn't want others to make fun of him or comment about his davening. FWIW, if you listen to Miami Boy's Choir tapes, etc., all the boys are saying "Adoinoi" , etc. A large percentage of these boys are "standard Ashkenaz" / Young Israel type.
    – DanF
    Apr 17, 2018 at 13:53
  • I would add, that an exception is probably when the pronunciation sounds garbled to the point that most people can't understand the word itself. E.g. I have heard numerous people pronounce Hakadosh Baruch Hu as Kudshbuchoo.
    – DanF
    Apr 17, 2018 at 13:56
  • 1
    See this article torahmusings.com/2006/10/hebrew-pronunciation_26
    – Alex
    Apr 17, 2018 at 14:00

2 Answers 2


I daven at Shapells's Yeshivah for young American Baaley Teshuvah in Jerusalem. Many of them wish to eventually adopt the Ashkenazi pronunciation. There's one important point to consider, that I was specifically talking to R' Shlezinger Z"L:

  1. Regarding the Baaley Teshuvah, the "שמע בני מוסר אביך" (listen to your your father's tradition), does not fully apply, so a Baal Teshuvah is allowed to chose his own tradition (I was talking about this point with the leading Rabbis regarding myself some 30 years ago).

  2. As long as the pronunciation is consistently Sefardic, an Ashkenazi Jew is allowed to pronounce the name with Patach - "Nay".

  3. It is also allowed and even preferred that the holy name be pronounced with Komotz - "Noy" while the rest of the text is in the Sefardic style.

  4. The only combination that's totally forbidden is pronouncing some words in Ashkenazi style (like Chasdey AvoS, or ShabboS) and then saying the name with "Nay". Once you show that you adopted the Ashkenazi tradition, AdoNAY becomes "masters" and the unholy name like with Lot (Rambam Yesodei-haTorah-Chapter-Six) Mind the Komotz!:

    "כל השמות האמורות באברהם, קודש; אף זה שנאמר "וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי אִם נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ" (בראשית יח,ג), הרי הוא קודש. כל השמות האמורות בלוט--חול, חוץ מזה: "וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹט אֲלֵהֶם אַל נָא אֲדֹנָי" (בראשית יט,יח-יט). "

    "All the names of God written concerning Abraham are sacred. Even [Gen 18:3]: "My Lord, if I have found favor in Your eyes," is also sacred. All the names written concerning Lot are not sacred, except [Genesis 19:18-19]: "And Lot said to them: `0 God, no! I have found favor in Your eyes... and You have saved my life.'"

Names that are not sacred are for example (Gen 19,20) Mind the Patach!:

"וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֶּה נָּא-אֲדֹנַי"

This is especially strict with Shaliach Tzibur that is Moyzeh the others!

Hope it is clear enough. Feel free to edit.

  • Al Berko I would like to ask you a question directly in a question that you answered since there is no other way to contact you directly. Especially since I think that you would be the mostly qualified to answer my question given that your profile says that you live in Jerusalem and that question that I have is about a group of people that live in Jerusalem therefore I think you would know more about it by first hand experience. I dont know if my comment would be flagged since its not that related to the question but it is related in the fact that they are about pronunciation...cont'
    – user17175
    Jan 22, 2019 at 1:46
  • cont'...Context: My understanding is that the Ashkenazi non-Hasidic Haredim such as the "Yeshivish type" pronounce biblical hebrew words with a penultimate stress. Is this also true for those non-Hasidic Haredim that live in Israel when they chant the Torah and when they daven the prayers?
    – user17175
    Jan 22, 2019 at 1:51
  • @user17175 Of non-Chassidishers Ashkenazis there are Haredi Litvakes (Hevron, Ponivezh etc) and Merkaz Harav. All Litvakes follow the standard Ashk. pronunciation with Komotz, Oy and penultimate stress (shAbbos). Merkaz (Kipot Srugot) follow the standard Sefardi pronunciation - Kamatz (shabbAt). This is consistent with the way of everyday Gemmorah learning.
    – Al Berko
    Jan 22, 2019 at 15:21
  • Al Berko Thank you for responding. I was actually referring to the Litvak Haredim like the ones from those yeshivas that you mentioned. So regarding those Litvak Haredim, are you saying that they don't use penultimate stress during prayer but they do for gemora learning OR they use it for both prayer and gemora learning?
    – user17175
    Jan 22, 2019 at 16:51
  • @user17175 The pronunciation is always consistent thru all verbal Kodesh activities: davevning, leining, studying, saying a Drosha etc.
    – Al Berko
    Jan 22, 2019 at 16:55

According to this article, the Chazon Ish holds that if an Ashkenazi pronounced Hashem's name with the Sephardi pronunciation he does not fulfill his obligation, however the custom is not like the Chazon Ish.

  • 1
    Notably both the claims you present are disputable (that the Chazon Ish held that and that people don't practice like him)
    – Double AA
    Jun 25, 2018 at 16:09

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