STAM 101: The Names of G-d

The 24 books of Tanach are all holy; G‑d’s ten names have an additional level of holiness. These names must be written lishma: “…for the sake of the holiness of The Name (of G‑d)” – and can never be erased. Some of the words used as G‑d’s name are also used sometimes in a non-divine context (for example, “אלהים אחרים” – which refers to idolatry), and in that context they have no extra holiness. There are some words which have an ambiguous context (for example, “בני א-להים”), and they are written conditionally-lishma: “…for the sake of the holiness of the Name (of G‑d), if this word is in fact a name of G‑d”.

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