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The Crown of Halacha

Shaimos & Wedding Invitations

This entry is part 1 of 12 in the series Rav Bloomenstiel

From Shu”t Sheves Achim by

Rav Avraham Chaim Bloomenstiel, shlit”a

 Question

I recently received a a wedding invitation which contains the name “Keil” on the front. Is this considered shaimos and chayav geniza?

Answer:

The halachos of shaimos are derived from the verses of Devarim 12:3,4 which state:

3. And you shall tear down their altars, smash their monuments, burn their idolatrous trees in fire, chop down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name from that place.

4. You shall not do thus to the L-rd, your G-d.

The gemora in Makkos 22a explains that included in the fourth verse is the prohibition of destroying HaShem’s name. This prohibition is brought in all of the early halachic literature and such is the psak of the Shulchan Aruch in YD 276:9.

While there are many names for the Holy One, the specific names to which the prohibition applies are the seven sanctified names enumerated in Shavuos 35a-b: YKVK, Keil, Eloka, Elokim, Shakai, Tzevakos, Adon (note that here I have only used the abbreviated forms of the names). The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) brings that there are those who are also strict with Ekyah Asher Ekyah as well. These names must be disposed of by placing them in shaimos. However, all other Hebrew references to HaShem are not true names and may be thrown away. These appellations include Chanon, Rachum, HaKasosh Boruch Hu, and even HaShem.   However, a direct name of HaShem in another language, such as G-D spelled out in full, may very well require placement in shaimos. Yet, this is a dispute amongst the poskim and there are various understandings.[1]

The wedding invitation of which you write is a clear case of shaimos. At a minimum, the Holy names could be cut out and placed in shaimos while the rest of the invitation may be discarded. While there is a significant debate in the poskim as to whether the printed name of HaShem is treated with the same severity as a hand written name, the majority conclude that they are treated equally.[2]

I am surprised to hear that the invitations contained a name of HaShem; this is very unusual today. The consensus of most poskim is that one should not print pesukim or other words that could create a shaimos problems on wedding invitations since they are usually thrown out.[3] Yet, we commonly put kol sasson vekol simcha…etc. on invitations. Why is this mutar? First, there are poskim who are lenient with this verse provided it is printed on separate lines. However, Rav Moshe and others doubt the efficacy of multiple lines as a heter.[4] A second heter is to alter the verse slightly by changing a word from singular to plural or altering a case.[5] There are others though, such as Rav Moshe Heinemann[6], shlita, and the Shevet ha-Levi[7], who permit the posuk to be written because is is merely a melitza, a statement which is not intended or used as a posuk. However, Rav Chaim Kanievsky and other poskim disagree[8].

NOTES

[1]    Shach Y.D. 179:11, Pischei Teshuva 11, 19, Mishnah Berurah O.C. 85:10, Aruch Ha’shulchan Y.D. 276, C.M. 27:3

[2]    Rav Poelim 2:24, Mishnah Berurah 40:4, Minchas Yitzchok 1:17:8, Be’er Moshe 3:174:4, 8:47, Shevet Ha’Levi Y.D. 5:163, Tzitz Eliezer 3:1

[3]    Ginzei Hakodesh 9:5,

[4]    Igros Moshe YD 2:135

[5]    Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 20; Ginzei Hakodesh 9, ha’ara 18.

[6]    According to the the Star-K.

[7]    Shevet ha-Levi 7:167

[8]    See Ginzei Hakodesh 265:68

 

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One Comment

  1. This is a really complicated issue – perhaps it can be a future post all to itself!

    In short – If a Jewish newspaper contains divrei torah alongside advertising and other non-Torah articles, the paper may be wrapped in plastic and disposed of in the regular wastebasket.

    If there is a section of the paper devoted exclusively to divrei Torah, absent advertisements and other articles, then most poskim hold that portion should be placed in shaimos.

    It is not necessary to check a publication to see whether or not it contains divrei Torah or has a special  section devoted to divrei Torah before placing it in the trash.

     

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