Where do we find that it's forbidden to spell out Hashem's names?

For example, people will say Yud-Kay - replacing the Hay with a Kay.

Or Yud-Kay-Vov-Kay for the Tetragrammaton.

We know it's forbidden to say His name in vain, but what's the deal with not spelling it out loud?

  • 2
    See tosfot Sukkah 5a הוגה את השם באותיותיו
    – Double AA
    Jul 11, 2018 at 10:41
  • 1
    @DoubleAA - that's probably an answer, though it's not the simple meaning of the prohibition. Just found halachayomit.co.il/he/default.aspx?HalachaID=344 that confirms it. Jul 11, 2018 at 10:54
  • 1
    It might be a gedar, so that one never accidentally recites the Name in vain, chas v'shalom.
    – ezra
    Jul 12, 2018 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


Chayei Adam 5:27 writes the following (emphasis mine):

ההוגה השם באותיותיו אין לו חלק לע"הב דהיינו שקורא השם בנקודותיו כמו שהוא נקוד היו"ד בשב"א והה"א בחולם והוא"ו בקמץ (ול"נ מדלא אמר ההוגה השם בנקודותיו ומדאמר באותיותיו ר"ל שאומר השם בהברת האותיות כידוע ליודעי חן והוא השם המפורש) או שאומר האותיות ואפילו רק מקצתו דהיינו יו"ד ה"א אלא יאמר יו"ד קֵא וא"ו קֵא

Here we see that it's an application of the idea of not spelling out Hashem's name. The Chayei Adam writes explicitly that instead of saying out loud the letters of "Yud" then "Hay", one should say "Yud" "Kay" "Vav" Kay".

  • Note that even in the davening we say "Yud-Kay b'Vov-Kay"
    – ezra
    Jul 12, 2018 at 5:05
  • @ezra - I have never seen that in davening - over 50 year's worth of it. Jul 12, 2018 at 8:50
  • 1
    @Salmononius2 - thanks for finding this documented somewhere - though I'm curious what his source is; the Chayei Adam didn't invent any Halachot. Jul 12, 2018 at 8:51
  • @DannySchoemann My personal volume of the Chayei Adam didn't have any sources in it (although it is the very basic version that has just the text as well as being the censored version, which is an unrelated but fascinating story in its' own right), and doesn't look like the Chochmas Adam comments on it either (per Sefaria). I know that one of my local institutions has a more robust copy of the Chayei Adam in their library, I'll try to peruse it over the weekend to see if it gives any more details. Jul 12, 2018 at 14:12
  • @DannySchoemann Sorry, no luck with finding the source. Jul 15, 2018 at 17:53

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