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October 14, 2015 / 1 Heshvan, 5776
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This Problem of Shaimos


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This past Friday, I went shopping at a local supermarket and noticed a piece of paper on the floor with what looked like Hebrew lettering. On closer examination, I was shocked to see that this small pamphlet with some form off advertising contained the full text of “Krias Shma al Hamitta,” (the Shma Israel recited before falling asleep), including the name of God spelled out fully and clearly.

The paper must have fallen out of a newspaper lying nearby, a prominent and widely distributed publication.

This problem is becoming widespread and will continue, if not checked, to cause many to sin. I don’t know much about the way newspapers are distributed and how these pamphlets came to be in this particular issue, but someone erred gravely.

This was not so much an oversight as a blatant disregard for the prohibition of trivializing or erasing God’s name, and the other halachos of what is commonly known as shaimos (holy names).

Unfortunately, it’s becoming a serious problem in newspapers and magazines printed for the Jewish community. Articles and advertisements for Jewish products (specifically the ads for religious books) contain verses, words of Torah, and sometime even the explicit name of God. These publications are often taken into the bathroom, left on the floor, and thrown into the garbage without any thought.

It is the responsibility of each religious publication to make certain that any Torah words are dealt with in the proper manner.

I recommend the website www.shaimos.org/guidelines.htm for instrcutions on this matter.

Yosef Levison

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2 Responses to “This Problem of Shaimos”

  1. Anthony Kent says:

    That Irishman gets everyone. UK Jewish papers are very conscientious to avoid it.

  2. Mildred Bilt says:

    Does this prohibition also include transliteration into English?

Comments are closed.

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