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Erasing Hashem's Name

The pasuk teaches us in Paeshas Re'ah that one should destroy idols but it is forbidden to do so to holy items ["lo taasun keyn lashem Elokeichem" – 12/3].

The Mishna in Gittin [32a] teaches that a husband may void a get that he wrote for his wife [I call it the sugya of " 'Get' out of here"]. Is it possible for a sofer stam to void a sefer Torah that he wrote [by nerbally declaring it unholy - shealeh bashem]?

Interesting question! Tosphos [Gittin 32b] thought of it already and they ruled NO! It doesn't work. Some suggest that if it would be effective [against the opinon of Toshphos] to nullify the holiness of the sefer Torah, then one who does so, would be guilty of erasing G-d's holy name. The Rav Yosef Engel compares this to uprooting ones declaration of Terumah. Such a person is guilty of the sin of "meabeid Terumah" – destroying Terumah. The Rogchover agrees that it is a no-no.

The Shulchan Melachim writes that it is possible that if one writes the name of Hashem it is permitted to nullify it within two seconds of the writing [affectionately known in Talmudic literature as "toch kidei dibbur"] but after this time has elapsed "eeeeeeeee" buzzer sounds and it is too late.

The Minchas Chinuch [437/11] derives from the aforementioned Tosphos that only with a verbal declaration it is impossible to nullify the name of G-d that was written lishmah. But if one would do a maaseh [concrete act] then it would be effective. An example of this would be adding a letter to the name or filling in dots [nekodot]. See there.

The Kli Chemdah [page 66] suggests that if we assume that it is POSSIBLE to uproot the holiness of G-d's name, it would be PERMITTED do so. A proof for this is the halacha that one may uproot a declaration of his possessions to the Beis Hamikdash [sheailah bi'hekdesh] and there is no prohibition of destroying kedusha ["lo taasun keyn"]. Similarly, asserts the Kli Chemda, it is permitted to uproot the sanctity of G-d's name in a sefer Torah.

In conclusion there is a dispute if it is permitted to uproot the holiness of a sefer torah [if we assume that such an act is possible]. According to Rav Yosef Engel and The Rogochover Gaon – it is forbidden. According to the Kli Chemdah it is permitted.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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