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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Name’

The Miracles Of The Ramban

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Rabi Moshe ben Nachman, widely known as the Ramban was born in the year 1194 in the town of Gurunda, Catalina. He became famous as a great scholar and sage and wrote interpreta­tions on the Torah and on many Gemaras, and authored many seforim, which are revered to this day. The Ramban was also a philosopher and a physician and his ser­vices were in great demand.

One day, while the Ramban was study­ing, an elderly man was ushered into his chambers. The man was a mystic and well versed in the Kabbalah, He introduced himself to the Ramban and proceeded to urge him to study the Kabbalah. The Ramban avoided this study, as he believed it was unnecessary in this world. When the man became persistent the Ramban ordered him to leave.

“You’ll see,” said the Kabbalist, “how necessary it is to study this mysticism. I am urging you to do this for your sake, because you are a great man and you never can tell when you may need it.”

The elderly man left the Ramban’s house and walking into a church began to smash the statues and do other mischief. He was caught, judged to be a heretic, and sentenced to be burned at the stake that Shabbat.

The Kabbalist Performs Miracles

When the Ramban heard he was aghast. He visited the condemned man and upbraided him for his bad behavior, which served as a reflection upon all Jewry. The elderly man seemed un­concerned and asked the Ramban to please prepare his three Shabbat meals. The Ramban thought he was men­tally unbalanced and left him.

Shabbat morning the man was led to a tremendous burning pyre. As the soldiers prepared to throw him into it, the Kabbalist uttered the Holy name and they were suddenly struck blind. Miraculously a goat appeared on the scene and the soldiers grabbed it and threw it into the fire, thinking it was the elderly man.

Walking home, the Kabbalist entered the Ramban’s home in time to answer Amen to the Ramban’s kiddush. The Ramban was amazed and after hearing the entire story he decided to learn the wisdom of the Kabbalah. He spent many months with this elderly man and then he went to study with the sage, Rabi Elazar of Worms, world-renown Kabbalist and author of the sefer HaRokeach. After a few years, the Ramban became proficient in the wisdom of the Kabbalah.

Ramban Launches A Ship

The following year all of Spain turned out to witness the launching of one of the largest warships of the time, in the city of Barcelona. The king and queen were there as well as the entire court. The leaders of all nations were also present. As the chief spokesman for his people, the Ramban was also invited to attend.

While the trumpets blared, the workingmen released the wedges to permit the ship to slide down into the water. But something went wrong and the boat would not move. The workingmen frantically began to push the boat and used every method but it wouldn’t budge. The pop­ulace began to groan.

The Ramban, seeing this predicament, remarked to one of his pupils that with the use of the Holy Name he could move the boat and if need be, even mountains. A neighbor hearing this rushed to the king and repeated the conversation. The king commanded the Ramban to be brought before him and he ordered him to fulfill his boast.

Realizing his predicament, the Ramban requested a dinghy with a pilot to accompany him in the harbor. This was granted. The Ramban then uttered the awesome Holy Name and commanded the ship to slide down into the waters. Wonders of wonders! The boat began to move slowly and soon with a rush it splashed into the harbor water. The crowd cheered. However, before the king could sum­mon the Ramban to reward him, the Bishop approached the king and accused the Ramban of witchcraft.

Ramban Escapes

Hearing this the Ramban wrote out the Holy Name and the symbol of travel, on a piece of paper and placed it in a corner of the little boat. Immediately, the boat jumped forward as if guided by a tremen­dous power. The pilot had been asleep so he didn’t notice the boat racing through the waters. In a matter of minutes the boat covered half the coast of Spain and he entered a port near his home.

Q & A: What Constitutes Shemot? (Part III)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Question: Since my daughter in high school started researching the topic of shemot for her school newspaper, I have become more and more confused. Does shemot only include items, such as books and sheets of papers, with Hashem’s name on them? Or does it even include items containing Torah concepts or even just Hebrew letters? For example, how do you advise I dispose of The Jewish Press? Finally, concerning Hashem’s name, must the name be spelled out fully in Hebrew to constitute shemot? What if it is in English in abbreviated form – “G-d,” for example?

Shlomo Newfield
(Via E-Mail)

 

Answer: The Mechaber (Yoreh De’ah 276:9-10), referring to writing and repairing a Sefer Torah, specifies certain names of G-d that may not be erased once written: Kel from Elo-kim and Kah (which is either a name in itself or part of the name of Hava’yah. The Rema (ad loc.) includes alef-daled from Adnut and alef-heh from Eh-yeh. These halachot extend to any writing, but authorities differ on whether they apply to languages other than Hebrew.

My uncle, Harav Sholom Klass, zt”l, helped popularize the accepted style of omitting a letter in the English words “G-d” and “L-rd” in The Jewish Press from its very inception in 1960. In “Responsa of Modern Judaism II,” two of his responses address this issue. The first (Book II, p. 535) stresses that the holiness of G-d’s name is related to it being written in Hebrew. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefilla 14:10) writes, based on various statements in the Gemara, that when Shimon Hatzaddik died, his fellow kohanim stopped using the Holy Name (Shem Hameforash) so that disrespectful and unruly people would not learn it, since the Holy Spirit departed from the Temple.

Many discussions appear in halacha regarding versions of G-d’s names that imply specific characteristics of G-d and whether they may be erased once written. The Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11) writes that while the name of G-d is holy only in Hebrew and may be erased – since the word “G-d” in a secular language is not His true name – it is still preferable to be as careful as possible. The Beth Yosef (Tur, Yoreh De’ah 276) quotes the Rashbatz’s opinion that G-d’s name is not holy and may be erased – whether written in Hebrew or any other language – if it was written without any intent of holiness. The Beth Lechem Yehuda (Yoreh De’ah 276:10) agrees with the intention requirement, especially in a secular language, and stresses that if the name was intended for a holy purpose, we are not to erase or discard it.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Yoreh De’ah 276:24) quotes the Rema and other poskim to explain that the name of G-d which appears in our siddurim (the letter “yud” twice) may be erased if necessary. He also quotes the Tashbatz who warns that while the name of G-d in different languages may be erased, we still avoid writing it because it may be discarded into a trash basket and will put the Holy Name to shame. In Choshen Mishpat 27:3, the Aruch HaShulchan decries the custom of writing letters in any language using the name of G-d since they are discarded, and when G-d’s name is put to shame, respect for G-d erodes and poverty descends on the world.

In the second related responsum by Rabbi Sholom Klass (Book II, p. 533), he suggests passing the result of his labor, The Jewish Press, along to others after one is done reading it and explains printing the word “G-d” with a hyphen as a method to avoid profaning the Holy Name. He cites Rosh Hashana 18b regarding a feast the sages instituted to celebrate the day Israelites corrected the way they worded notes and bonds so as to avoid mentioning G-d’s name since these documents are ultimately discarded.

My uncle quotes some halachic authorities who allow writing G-d’s name and even erasing it in a secular context (such as on making and destroying coins). The Beth Yosef (on Tur to Yoreh De’ah 276), Rashbatz (ad loc.), and Shach (Yoreh De’ah 179:11) agree that without the writer’s intent to imbue holiness (especially if writing in a language other than Hebrew) G-d’s name may be erased or disposed of.

* * * *

We have received numerous inquiries regarding disposing The Jewish Press after one is finished reading it. One must understand the thought and effort that is involved in the production of a quality publication such as The Jewish Press, especially in our time when newer technology allows us to download complete texts which arrive from various worthy sources and authors. Many of these texts contain G-d’s name (in English) spelled out in various ways, which, in a Torah column, is obviously there for holy purposes.

Some authors ask that G-d’s name not be written out in full; they prefer that their text be edited to consistently read “G-d or L-rd” as the case may be. This practice is in line with the view of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Iggrot Moshe, Yoreh De’ah, 1:172).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-what-constitutes-shemot-part-iii/2012/02/22/

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