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This week’s parshah includes the mitzvah to destroy avodah zarah. The Torah also warns us not to do to Hashem what we are commanded to do to avodah zarah, i.e. destroy it. “Va’avaditam es shemam min hamakom hahu, lo sa’asun kein la’Hashem Elokeichem.” We derive from this pasuk that it is forbidden to erase Hashem’s name.

The Minchas Chinuch (437:6) asks the following interesting question: How can a person ever write the name of Hashem “Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai”? After writing the first two letters, he has written one of Hashem’s names – namely Yud Kai. When he then continues to the next letter and adds a Vav, he is effectively destroying the name Yud Kai. It should therefore be forbidden to write the name of Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai, since by doing so a person will invariably destroy the name Yud Kai.


One way to avoid this issue is to write the name out of order. The Minchas Chinuch says, however, that since we do not find a source in the Torah for writing the name of Hashem out of order, it must be that we are obligated to write Hashem’s name specifically in order. If not for this obligation, though, we would indeed be mandated to write the name out of order to avoid erasing the name of Yud Kai.

Based on this fact, the Minchas Chinuch argues that we can now understand the Gemara’s statement on Yoma 38a. The Gemara says that there was a man who knew how to hold four kolmusin (quills) and write four letters at once. He did not, however, want to teach this amazing skill to anyone else. The Gemara says he was therefore considered a rasha. The Minchas Chinuch asks why he would be considered a rasha for not teaching his amazing trick to others. Maybe not a nice guy – but a rasha?

The Minchas Chinuch explains that the Chachamim understood that it would be better if all four letters of the name of Hashem (Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai) were written simultaneously, as this would avoid the above mentioned problem of erasing the name of Yud Kai. Since this fellow did not wish to teach his feat to others, the Chachamim considered him a rasha.

The Dovev Meisharim (chelek 1, 18:3) quotes the Divrei Chaim who says that writing all four letters of the name simultaneously is considered writing the name out of order. By definition, “in order” means that it is written in order – not simultaneously. Therefore, on the contrary, he says that it is clear from the Gemara that one does not need to write the name of Hashem in order. The Minchas Chinuch, though, apparently assumes that simultaneously is considered “in order.” Only writing a later letter before an earlier one is considered “out of order” according to the Minchas Chinuch.

Rav Akiva Eiger (Teshuvos Yoreh De’ah 276:11) quotes the Ginas Viradim (Orach Chayim 2:12, 13, written by the Pri Megadim) and the Shemesh Tzedakah (siman 52) who maintain that one must write the name Yud, Kei, Vav, Kei in order. However, the other names of Hashem, they argue, do not have to be written in order. Therefore, since one can write the names Elokim and Elokeinu out of order, one should be obligated to do so in order not to erase the name Kel when one finishes writing the letters Alef and Lamed – which spell a name of Hashem in themselves – and then proceeds to write the letter Hei. However, we do not find a requirement to write these names out of order.

The Kiryas Sefer (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, perek 6) says that if a person has in mind to write the name Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai, the first two letters – Yud and Kai – do not have kedushah and he is permitted to erase them. The same applies to the name Kel in Elokim and Elokeinu. This can better be explained as follows: Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai and Yud Kai are two separate names. Thus, when a person writes the name Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai, the first two letters are part of that name and do not yet have kedushah. So, he can continue to write the letter Vav without worrying about erasing Yud Kei. Indeed, he can even actually erase these letters if he changed his mind about what he wants to writes since they do not have kedushah. They were written as part of the four-letter name Yud, Kai, Vav, Kai and not as an independent name.


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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.