Lv 6

Why do some Jewish people write the word God as "G-d"?

Let us start the new year with some genuine learning about another faith, shall we? :)

17 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    I am Jewish, and I write it as "G-d" out of respect.

    The tetragramatron name of G-d is both unpronounceable and forbidden to pronounce. But writing the word "God" in English isn't. (See? There I just did it.)

    Writing G-d's name on a paper makes that paper have to buried if discarded, and requires that we have to take special care in treating it and disposing of it.

    Opinions differ as to how far to take all of this, whether it extends to writings about sanctified topics, etc.

    But, for me, writing "G-d" instead of "God" reminds me to be mindful, respectful, and make an attempt at sanctifying G-d's name with my speech, writing, and actions.

    Some people take this very, very far, (in my opinion) past superstition and into the realm of the absurd. I have seen "HaSh-m", which is an English transliteration of the Hebrew word for "the name".

    There are many (70?) names of G-d. According to my best understanding of mainstream Jewish thought (I know of excpetions) only the tetragramatron, and about two others (only the Hebrew versions) *require* burial/special treatment. The others are optional.

    I have read works by major, respected, Orthodox Rabbis, with it written "G-d" and others who write it as "God".


    Similarly, you'll often see 'BS"D' or 'b"h' at the top of Jewish written work. It's an acronym for 'with the help of G-d'. Some people think this is required, some think it's hubris to put it on the top of the page.

    I think it is not required, but often a helpful reminder that what I write should (aim to) be a sanctification of His name, or at least not a desecration of it. This means that what I write should add to the good in the world, not take away from it.

    Source(s): (I originally wrote this response for this previous question, that also had some good answers: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=An4dk...
  • 1 decade ago

    This is actually a direct command in the Torah in Devarim 12:3-4

    12:3 You shall break apart their altars; you shall smash their pillars; and their sacred trees shall you burn in the fire; their carved images shall you cut down; and you shall obliterate their names from that place

    4. You shall not do this to Hashem, your G-d.

    The "this" is erasing the Divine name which is the tetragrammaton. This is why you will seldom see it written out except in the Torah, a Tanach or sometimes in a Siddur. If a Tanach is worn out, it is supposed to be buried with a Jew, although sometimes they bury them behind a shul.

    There is some question if turning off a computer is erasing, but most don't care. Writting it as G-d is a sign of respect.

    The Divine Name is never said because the pronunciation has been lost. The only time it ever used to be said was on Yom Kippur by the high priest. It was said while everyone was singing so nobody could hear it.

    Vowels in Hebrew are not written, so there is no way to know what the actual pronunciation is. It may actually change based on the context it is used. Those who conjure up a pronunciation based on comparisons with other words are demonstrating a lack of knowledge of Hebrew grammar.



  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Nice post :)

    Firstly, just to slightly clarify a previous answer: Jews never call G-d 'yahweh'. Never! Way back, the name of G-d was not revealed to the Jews, instead they used the tetragrammatron YHWH. As Hebrew has no vowels, later Christian theologians inserted vowels to try and make sense of the 'word'. Thus evolved the use of 'yahweh' and 'jehovah'. But you will never find any Jewish person using these names.

    We don't write the entire word for G-d firstly because yes, it is a sacred name. But also, it's a precaution in case the material written on gets destroyed, and the word G-d gets destroyed along with it. Hence 'G-d'.

    Also: We refer to G-d as 'Adonai' which means Lord, and sometimes 'Hashem' which in Hebrew literally means 'the name'.

    Hope this helped to explain it a bit! Thanks for yet another lovely post - wishing you a happy and healthy new year, shalom :)

  • 1 decade ago

    I agree with Juggling Frogs but there is a slightly different reason sometimes. In Judaism we have this thing called "building a fence around the Torah." It means that you "build a fence" by acting out other laws or traditions to make absolutely sure that you never break the real law. A ridiculous example would be if there was a law forbidding you to wear leather shoes, we wouldn't wear shoes at all to make sure that none of our shoes could ever have a scrap of leather in them.

    Same thing with writing G-d. We cannot take G-d's name in vain, and this includes saying it and writing it. Writing it out on an internet forum would be really bad, generally, but also on the internet when you write things down, your computer can delete the files and therefore the name. Now we realize that G-d is a title, not a name, but this is where the "building a fence around" comes in. We do it to the title too to make absolutely sure. This isn't a law, usually just a custom and not all Jews do it. Some of us write HaShem (literally The Name) which can be erased and deleted if need be.


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  • 4 years ago

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  • 4 years ago

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  • LDawnZ
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    this is because suppose you write the word "G-d" (with an o) on a piece of paper later on when you are cleaning up an you want to throw away that paper it would be like throwing away G-d. but by writing it with a dash, you can throw out the peice of paper

  • J R
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    The Hebrews hold the name of God in reverence. They do not believe in using the Lord's name in vain. Even when answering questions in this forum they respectfully leave out the vowel. It is a good way to see who is a devout Hebrew. It is an easy way to see if anyone is professing to be a Hebrew but is not respecting the God Of Abraham. I do not spell it that way obviously because it is not a custom that I was raised to do. I was taught to use the name of Jehovah as the almighty God of Abraham.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, in the bible, God's name was Yahweh (according to the Jews), which translates into "He who's name should not be spoken" (or something to that effect). Jews could not say "God," because that would be using his name in vain according to the Jewish faith. So they said "Yahweh" instead. Similarly, they do not spell the name of God either, so they leave the "o" out because you can still get what they are talking about without them actually writing it, thus using God's name in vain.

  • MSB
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Because they believe that it is disrespectful to write God's name on anything that can be destroyed or will disappear.

    Hence, they write G-d.

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