"G-d" "on one foot":
There are different ideas about whether one needs a dash in the word "G-d". This source sheet looks at the different views on the matter.
Context: This is from the Biblical Book of Deuteronomy, from a part describing how the Israelites should act when they get into the Land of Israel. In context, it is saying that the Canaanites worshipped their gods all over the place, and the Israelites should only worship their god in "the place that G-d will show you" (i.e. Jerusalem).
By stopping the text at verse 4, what relevance does this have on the question of erasing and/or writing the name of G-d?
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Makkot, which is about crimes for which the punishment is flogging. After the Mishnah lists some of them, Rabbi Chananya argues that erasing the name of G-d should also be on the list, deriving that from the text in Deuteronomy.
What bearing does this have on the question of writing G-d's name with a dash?
Context: This is from the Biblical Book of Leviticus, from the "Holiness Code" in Chapter 19. The chapter says "You shall be holy to the Lord your G-d" and then proceeds to list a set of ways to interact with other people in a "holy" manner.
The idea of "a stumbling block before the blind" has been interpreted more broadly, such as not putting wine out at Kiddush when you know there are children or alcoholics present. If the prohibition is on erasing the name of G-d, how might this text be relevant to the question of writing the name of G-d?
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Rosh Hashanah, which is about Rosh Hashanah (as you might presume). This text is from a gemara commenting on a mishnah that says that the new moon was announced throughout the Land of Israel and the Diaspora so that people would know when to observe the holidays (like Rosh Hashanah) and fast days. The Gemara picks up on the matter of fast days and eventually raises a question about "Megillat Ta'anit" (not the same as "Mishnah Ta'anit"). "Megillat Ta'anit" was a scroll that listed noteworthy days when fasting was therefore forbidden. The question is whether this list of dates is still in force.
In this text, the following happens: 1. The Syrian-Greeks forbid the Jews to say "God". 2. The Hasmoneans (Maccabees) beat the Syrian-Greeks and say that the Jews should say "God" and even write it on their business documents (take that, Syrian-Greeks!) 3. The rabbis worry that people will throw away their business documents and disgrace G-d's name, so they cancel the Hasmonean law about writing G-d's name on business documents. This happens on the 3rd of Tishrei. 4. The 3rd of Tishrei becomes noteworthy because G-d's name had been protected, so it's included on the list of dates when one shouldn't fast.
Note that the 3rd of Tishrei is a minor fast day, and it was even when this discussion is happening (see Rosh Hashanah 18b:5). It is Tzom Gedaliah, the day that the last Judean in charge of the Land of Israel was assassinated (586 BCE).
If we don't write G-d's name where it might be discarded (or erased), does that mean that we should spell "G-d" with a dash?
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Shevuot, which is about oaths (not about the holiday Shavuot - there is no tractate about Shavuot). The question under discussion is when witnesses take an oath using G-d's name, which names of G-d make them liable for breaking the 3rd of the Ten Commandments (not to swear falsely using G-d's name)? To help answer that question, the Gemara brings a baraita (text that didn't make it into the Mishnah - baraitas are like hamantaschen dough that don't get into the circles). The baraita says that certain names of G-d are so holy that they can't be erased, and other ways of referring to G-d can.
What bearing does this have on the question of spelling G-d with a dash?
Context: This is from Maimonides' Mishneh Torah, where he reorganizes the Talmud's rules into more organized categories. Here Maimonides is saying that you shouldn't burn Torah scrolls, but if there was no intention of Divine holiness when writing the names of G-d then it's only a pretend Torah.
This text is relevant to the question of bringing a dollar bill into a bathroom, not because people at the US Mint are heretics, but because there is no intention of the sanctity of G-d when they print "In God we trust".
How is this relevant to our discussion about writing G-d's name with a dash?
Context: This is again Maimonides' Mishneh Torah. Here he is discussing which objects have holiness and can't just be thrown away when you are done with them. Along the way he brings a ruling from the Talmud (Megillah 32a) that a chalk tablet has no holiness, and that it is OK to write and erase G-d's name on such a tablet since the nature of a tablet is to be erased.
How is this relevant to writing G-d’s name with a dash on an electronic device?
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards Teshuvah
Official Use of “God”, by Rabbi Kassel Abelson (Y.D. 276.1995)
Approved May 19, 1993, by a vote of 24-0-0. Voting in favor: Rabbis Kassel Abelson, Ben Zion Bergman, Stanley Bramnick, Elliot Dorff, Jerome Epstein, Ezra Finkelstein, Samuel Fraint, Myron Geller, Arnold Goodman, Susan Grossman, Jan Caryl Kaufman, Reuven Kimelman, Judah Koven, Vernon Kurtz, Aaron Makler, Lionel Moses, Paul Plotkin, Mayer Rabinowitz, Avram Israel Reisner, Joel Rembaum, Chaim Rogoff, Joel Roth, Gerald Skolnik, and Gordon Tucker
The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly provides guidance in matters of Halacha for the Conservative movement. The individual rabbi, however, is the authority for the interpretation and application of all matters of Halacha.
Should the different branches of the Conservative movement write out the full word “God”, or employ the hyphenation “G-d” in their publications?
The Rabbis, basing themselves on Deut. 12:3-4, deduced that it is forbidden to erase the name of God from a written document. Since any paper upon which God’s name was written might be discarded and thus “erased”, the Rabbis forbade explicitly writing the name of God, except in holy books. And provisions were made for the proper disposal of such books. However, it is clear from the Talmud (Shevuot 35a-b) that the prohibition applies only to seven Biblical names of God and not to other names or attributes of God which may be freely written. The prohibition was later codified by Maimonides (see M.T. Yesodei HaTorah 6:1-2).
Shabbetai b. Meir HaKohen states that the prohibition of erasure of the Divine names applies only to the names in Hebrew but not in the vernacular (see Sifrei Kohen to Shulchan Aruch, Y.D. 179:8, and see also Avraham Tzvi Hirsch Eisenstadt in his Pithei Teshuvah to Y.D. 276:9). However Jehiel Michael Epstein in his Aruch Hashulchan (H.M. 27:3) opposes the practice of writing the Divine name even in the vernacular in correspondence. As a result, the custom has grown among some ritually strict Jews not to write the word God or any other name of God in full, even in the vernacular. The practice of using circumlocutions or hyphenations in the vernacular is not universal even among most observant Jews.
The practice of writing the full word “God” and other names of God in the vernacular has clear precedent and justification in the Halacha. It is therefore permissible, for our national Conservative organizations, to follow this practice.
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Eruvim, which is about eruvs (boundaries that change the “public domain” into a “private domain”, and thus permit carrying on Shabbat). In the Mishnah, the disciples of Shammai (Beit Shammai) and the disciples of Hillel (Beit Hillel) have a disagreement about how to make an eruv in a certain situation. The Gemara explains that G-d says both of them have valid points.
What does this text have to do with the question of spelling G-d’s name with a dash?
Verdict: The problem is erasing or otherwise disrespectfully treating the printed-out name of G-d. Putting a "-" in "G-d" is an extra fence so that IF somebody were to print it out and IF they were to then throw it out, the name of G-d would be just a tad less desecrated.
In order of severity:
1. Erasing or desecrating one of the Hebrew names of G-d written with the intention of holiness.
2. Erasing or desecrating one of the Hebrew names of G-d written without the intention of holiness.
3. Writing one of the Hebrew names of G-d in a text that will not definitely be treated with respect (i.e. not a Torah scroll, siddur, or chumash)
4. Writing out the full English name of G-d in a text that will not definitely be treated with respect (at this point, some authorities stop being concerned)
5. Typing the full English name of G-d
With appreciation to Jewish Virtual Library, Rabbi David Wolkenfeld, Wikipedia, the CCAR, Noah E Abramowitz, Barry Gelman,
Appendix A: Secondary Sources on Writing G-d's name with a dash
Appendix B: Other texts about erasing G-d's name
The "baraitas" of this source sheet
Context: This is from the Babylonian Talmud, Masechet (Tractate) Sanhedrin, which talks about criminal law. Here, the discussion is about somebody who curses G-d. When the judges hear the witnesses say what the defendant said against G-d, the judges tear their clothes for hearing the name of G-d disrespected. The Gemara goes on to find a Biblical source for this ruling, and in the process they discuss the rules about the written name of G-d.