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RESPECTING THE SACRED: A REVERENT REFLECTION ON THE NAME OF G-D

בס”ד

Jews cherish a deep reverence for the Name(s) of G-d, a reverence rooted in the essence of their faith. In Exodus 20:7, we read the commanment:


Thou shalt not take the name of the L-RD thy G-d in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain
 לֹ֥א תִשָּׂ֛א אֶת־שֵֽׁם־יְ”הֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹ’הֶ֖קיךָ לַשָּׁ֑וְא כִּ֣י לֹ֤א יְנַקֶּה֙ יְ”הֹוָ֔ה אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־יִשָּׂ֥א אֶת־שְׁמ֖וֹ לַשָּֽׁוְא

Avoiding frivolity in the use of G-d’s Name extends beyond merely refraining from frivolous swearing using His Name, as some suggest. It is a deeply rooted call to treat His Name with respect and reverence.

Maimonides, a prominent scholar in the Jewish tradition, clarifies that avoiding frivolity in the use of G-d’s Name stems from a profound sense of respect and reverence. This respect forms the foundation of Jewish life and extends to every aspect of interaction with the Name of G-d.

This respectful approach to G-d’s Name applies not only to spoken words but also to written language. Deuteronomy 12:3-4 instructs that the (Hebrew) Name of G-d must not be erased.

3 And ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Asherim with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods; and ye shall destroy their name out of that place.ג  וְנִתַּצְתֶּם אֶת-מִזְבְּחֹתָם, וְשִׁבַּרְתֶּם אֶת-מַצֵּבֹתָם, וַאֲשֵׁרֵיהֶם תִּשְׂרְפוּן בָּאֵשׁ, וּפְסִילֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם תְּגַדֵּעוּן; וְאִבַּדְתֶּם אֶת-שְׁמָם, מִן-הַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא.
4 Ye shall not do so unto the L-RD your G-d.ד  לֹא-תַעֲשׂוּן כֵּן, לַד’ אֱלֹהקיכֶם.

Writing the Name of G-d with a dash is an expression of respect and caution. It signifies the intention to protect the Holy Name from unintended or irreverent use, even in the most mundane contexts. However, common rabbinic opinion allows writing “G-d” in another language without concern. Here at Sukkat Shalom, we chose to use the dash out of respect.

The deep reverence for the Name of G-d applies to all people, as evident in the Noahide Laws, where the second commandment instructs us not to blaspheme His Name and to approach Him with respect.

In this approach to the divine name lies a profound spiritual lesson for us all—a reminder of the holiness and grandeur of the divine, and a call to a life imbued with respect, reverence, and love for the Creator.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

Writing the Name “God”




Text Mechon Mamre

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