Halacha for Tuesday 7 Adar 5782 February 8 2022

Reciting Hashem’s Names Mentioned in the Midrash or Talmud

Question: If one is studying Midrash or Talmud and there are verses or blessings quoted that contain the name of Hashem, may one recite the name of Hashem as one is learning or should one simply say “Hashem”?

Answer: Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l deals with this question in his Responsa Yechave Da’at (Volume 3, Chapter 13) and we will now discuss his main points.

The Baraita in Masechet Berachot (22a) tells us states regarding a man who is impure (by having had an impure emission for which the Halacha at that time was that one would not be permitted to mention Hashem’s name until he immersed in a Mikveh; however, nowadays a man who has had such an emission may in fact study Torah, pray, and recite blessings): “Rabbi Natan bar Avshalom says that a man who has had an emission may study the Talmud as long as he does not recite the names of Hashem mentioned in the Talmud.”

We can derive from here that other individuals may recite the names of Hashem mentioned in the Talmud and the like, for the prohibition to do so only applies to an impure person; however, the Sages never prohibited this for a person who is not impure.

Similarly, Hagaon Rabbeinu Yaakov Emdin writes, “I have seen some school teachers who would make sure that their students did not recite the name of Hashem while studying the Talmud because they thought that this constituted the prohibition of uttering Hashem’s name in vain and that they would transgress the prohibition of “Do not bear the name of Hashem your G-d in vain” when in fact they are mistaken; in fact, I have never seen any of the elderly scholars being careful about this matter. Indeed, I remember that in my youth, we used to study the Talmud in front of my father, the great Gaon (who was the Chacham Tzvi, the leader of the generation) zt”l, and when we would reach verses in the Talmud and read Hashem’s name as “Hashem” instead of the actual name, [my father] the Gaon would rebuke whoever read it in this way and said that one must read Hashem’s name as if one is reading from the Torah.” He proves his opinion based on the above Gemara (Berachot 22a) that the prohibition to mention Hashem’s name applied only to an impure man in those days, however, everyone else was permitted to do so. Maran zt”l writes that several other Acharonim rule likewise.

All this applies, however, only to verses mentioned in Midrashim and the like in which one may read the actual name of Hashem. On the other hand, when the actual text of a blessing is mentioned in the Gemara, i.e. “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’olam etc.”, one may not recite the actual name of Hashem, for this would constitute reciting Hashem’s name in vain. Rav Nachshon Gaon writes this explicitly and says that if one recites the actual name of Hashem while reading the text of a blessing that is mentioned in the Talmud, one has uttered Hashem’s name in vain and transgressed the prohibition of “Do not bear the name of Hashem your G-d in vain”.

Summary:  When one reaches a verse mentioned in any Sefer one is learning, one should recite the actual name of Hashem when reading these verses. The same Halacha applies if one reaches a half-verse; as long as this half-verse has some sort of meaning to it, one should recite the actual name of Hashem mentioned in it. However, if one reaches the text of a blessing mentioned in any Sefer one is learning, one may not recite Hashem’s actual name while reading the blessing for this would be considered a blessing in vain. Maran zt”l concludes his response with this remark: “May it be Hashem’s will that the verse of ‘Any place where my name will be mentioned, I shall come unto you and bless you,’ be fulfilled among us. “

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