Hashem’s Other Names

Question: May one erase or throw out a paper that contains a name of Hashem other than the seven main names?

Short Answer: Certain names of Hashem require burial and may not be discarded into the garbage. However, many poskim are lenient with these names for various reasons.


I. Background

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 276:9), as discussed previously (see Article #1), rules that one may not erase even one letter from the seven names of Hashem. These names (written here permissibly) are (i) Sheim Havayah; (ii) Shem Adnus; (iii) Elokim; (iv) Kel; (v) Elokah; (vi) Shakai; and (vii) Tz’vakos. The Shulchan Aruch notes that some have an additional forbidden name (written here permissibly): “Ekyeh Asher Ekyeh.” These names also may not be thrown into the garbage, and instead must be buried (see Article #1).

But what about other names of Hashem? For example, writing the name “HaKadosh Baruch Hu.” May this name be thrown out? There is an excellent sefer, entitled Ginzei HaKodesh (by Rav Yechezkel Feinhandler shlita), which analyzes each name. Indeed, he writes (7:5:11) that Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv reviewed his analysis and agreed with these rulings. Below is a short summary of his analyses, as well as additional sources, for some common names of Hashem.

[It should be noted that this discussion concerns names written in Hebrew; we will, b’ezras Hashem, have a separate article for writing the name “G-d” or other names of Hashem in English letters].

II. Names with Which We Are Generally More Lenient

We are more lenient about writing certain names or references to Hashem:

(A) Daled with an apostrophe. According to the Ginzei Kodesh (7:5:7), the Chazon Ish ruled that a daled with an apostrophe may be discarded. Notably, the Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh Dei’ah 276:28) writes that even though there is no inherent k’dushah for the letter daled and an apostrophe, a person should still treat this letter with respect and burn it when finished (as opposed to discarding with dirty trash).

(B) Hashem – spelled out as hei, shin, and mem sofis. The Igros Moshe (Yoreh Dei’ah 2:138) rules that one may write and discard the words “b’ezras hashem” as an acronym (i.e., beis, ayin, zayin, hei, shin, and yud), because everyone interprets the letter “hei” to refer to the word “Hashem,” and not the sheim havayah, because it is followed by the letter “shin.” The implication of this t’shuvah is that there is no k’dushah to the word Hashem as spelled out as hei, shin, mem sofis. By the same token, the Ginzei Kodesh (7:5) permits discarding a paper with the words “baruch Hashem” abbreviated as beis, hei, AND shin, as well as other abbreviations such as “im yirtzeh Hashem” that contain a “shin” (ayin, yud, hei, shin) which clarifies that the “hei” does not refer to the Sheim Havayah, and thus may be discarded.  Notably, here again, the Aruch HaShulchan (ibid) appears to disagree and requires burning these papers, regardless of whether they have a shin or not, since the writer intended to refer to “shamayim.”

(C) B’siyata diShmaya, abbreviated as beis, samech, and daled. The same Igros Moshe (ibid) addresses beis, samech, daled, and rules that there is no problem whatsoever of discarding a paper with these letters, because everyone knows that the daled stands for “diShmaya” and not the sheim havayah. Ginzei Kodesh (7:5:9) notes that this is the opinion of Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l, as well. The Riv’vos Ephraim (4:203) cites Rav Menashe Klein as being lenient with beis, samech, daled, as well. Nevertheless, this author recalls hearing from one of his rebbeim that Rav Y.D. Soloveitchik zt”l refrained from writing beis, samech, daled. Rav Moshe Dovid Lebowitz, in an excellent article on this topic, cites Orchos Rabbeinu as ruling that the Steipler also refrained from writing beis, samech, daled. See https://www.kof-k.org/articles/040108100403W-18%20%20Desposing%20of%20Shaimos.pdf

(D) HaKadosh Baruch Hu, abbreviated as hei, kuf, beis, and hei. The Ginzei Kodesh (7:5) rules that HaKadosh Baruch Hu abbreviated (or written out) may be discarded in the garbage. He does not cite any source for this. However, the journal BiNesivos B’Halachah (Vol. 47, p. 969) cites Rav Moshe Brandsdorfer zt”l as ruling similarly. He adds though that one should not use this paper with this word to do something degrading, like wiping up dirt, etc. It may, however, be thrown into a regular garbage.

III. Names That Are Stricter

Other names or references to Hashem are a bit more controversial.

(A) Baruch Hashem, abbreviated with only beis and hei. Ginzei Kodesh (7:6:13) cites a major dispute on this issue. On one hand, the Tzafnas Paanei’ach and the Maharsha indicate that the letter “hei” by itself should not be erased/discarded, as it refers to sheim havayah. Accordingly, beis and hei should not be written at all on a paper, and certainly if it will be thrown into the garbage. Indeed, the T’shuvos V’Hanhagos (1:640) writes that the Vilna Gaon never wrote this on any of his papers. The Ginzei Kodesh also posits that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l is strict on this issue, as he (Igros Moshe, ibid) only permitted writing and discarding b’ezras Hashem because of the letter shin in the abbreviation, which shows that it is not referring to sheim havayah. Presumably, beis and hei by themselves would be kodesh and require burial.

On the other hand, the Pischei T’shuvah (3:293) cites the Imrei Emes who ruled that no one needs to be strict on this. The Avnei Yashfe (1:13) cites Rav Wosner zt”l as ruling that no burial is required on such a paper. The Ginzei Kodesh concludes by citing the ruling of Rav Elyashiv that, even though there are many who are lenient, we should be strict on this issue and bury any paper that has baruch Hashem abbreviated only with the letters beis and hei. [However, later in the sefer, Ginzei Kodesh (7:6:15) indicates that Rav Elyashiv ruled that it did not need genizah.]

(B) Hei with an apostrophe. As indicated above (III.A), it is certainly preferable not to write the letter hei to refer to Hashem without adding a shin afterwards. Doing so may cause the word to be interpreted as a sheim havayah, which requires burial.  Thus, the Ginzei Kodesh (7:6) rules that hei with an apostrophe should ideally not be written, but appears to conclude that no burial is required b’dieved if written. He cites the Igros Moshe (Orach Chayim 4:40:3) as a proof, as Rav Moshe writes that he personally uses a kuf instead of a hei when writing sheim Hashem because it won’t be properly cared for. This implies though that no burial is required if a hei is in fact written.

Next Week’s Topic: May one erase or throw out a paper that contains the English word “G-d” (with a hyphen)?

Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Assistant to the Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.