More About the Names of G-d

The many laws governing the writing of G‑d’s name are extremely complex and beyond the scope of this blog,1 but there are a few hidurim which are specific to G‑d’s name and warrant special mention:

Shemos kisidran

Unlike tefilin and mezuzos, Sifrei Torah do not need to be written kisidran. However, there is a minority opinion that the names of G‑d must be written kisidran even in Sifrei Torah. This opinion should be taken into consideration if at all possible.

Consecutive “lishem kidushas”

The names of G‑d require the declared intent to write “…for the sake of the holiness of the name of G‑d”. When multiple instances of G‑d’s name appear consecutively, one declaration is enough for all of them. There are poskim who say that it is preferable for consecutive Shemos to all get their own declaration, and although it is not a requirement, it is recommended to do so.

Expanded list of safek shemos

Most of the references to G‑d in the Torah are unambiguous and must be written lishma. There are also words that might be G‑d’s name and they must be written conditionally-lishma. Then there are words which are the subject of a dispute – some Poskim say they are the name of G‑d (and must be written lishma), some say they are not the name of G‑d (and may not be written lishma), and some may even say they should be written conditionally-lishma. In deciding how to treat these disputed words, many sofrim follow a “standard” list which is based on only one opinion – and it is not necessarily the majority opinion. There are other lists available which take into account a wider variety of sources, including a comprehensive list based on the rulings of Rav Y. S. Elyashiv. Following one of the expanded lists when writing a Sefer Torah would add to the hidur of the Sefer.

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  1. For a brief introduction to the names of G‑d and their special status, see STAM bits: The Names of G‑d.  ↩